My husband likes nothing more than a good ragù. His perfect meal would involve something saucy, bright, and rich with a bit of meat, falling over a dish of toothsome pasta. A good ragù is nearly a religious experience for him. It expresses the ultimate goodness of the world, a place where people feed one another good food in love and honesty. So when a fennel and sausage ragù at a local restaurant invoked this mystical moment, giving him a cross-eyed moment of pleasure, I felt that the gauntlet was thrown in my lap.
With the changing of the seasons the doors open for a whole new world of baked goods. At the tippy top of my list is macaroni and cheese. Ooey, gooey, macaroni and cheese. It's probably on your list too, but did you know you could make it in half the time? Here's a little trick...
The most recent issue of Saveur magazine has a beautiful feature on pesto with photos, recipes, and stories of its humble beginnings in Liguria where Laura Schenone notes that it's "more than a sauce, it's an icon of cultural identity." After finishing the article, I got to thinking about my pesto rut.
Wow. Have your ever had a gastronomic moment when you know you're eating the best version of a particular dish? Eyes light up, noshing sounds commence and belly sighs exhale as fellow diners exclaim, "No THIS is the best!", "Oh my God!" and "Praise Mac & Mornay!" This happened recently and thank goodness I had my camera and notebook to document and jot down the ultimate mac and mornay recipe.
And just like that, summer feels like it is almost over. Beach vacations are winding down, kids are heading back to school. (Watch for a bunch of back-to-school content, coming up next week!) Getting dinner on the table becomes a less of a leisurely affair and more dependent on thinking ahead.
My own fallback in such times is the pasta casserole. Yes, I wrote an entire book about casseroles, but that hasn't stopped me from making them again and again, pulling in any fresh ingredients at hand, and baking up something bubbly-delicious.
It was that article on The Black Pepper Conspiracy that did it. Now, of course, I'm craving black pepper. And nothing can quite satisfy a black pepper craving like a plate of Cacio e Pepe. You with me?
I'm not sure when ravioli wiggled its way into my weeknight meal repertoire, but a package now lives permanently my freezer. Ravioli and its stuffed-pasta kin are a boon on late nights when I need a meal on the table STAT. Do you ever use frozen ravioli for quick meals?
If you have ever dreamed of spending a summer in Italy, living and eating with a local family, learning the language, then Mark Leslie's book Beyond the Pasta will be a pure wish-fulfillment read for you. And now you can get even closer, with his iPad app, which brings you recipes, narrative, and video from right inside Nonna's kitchen!
Do you make pasta salads? Or do they bring to mind visions of mushy pasta in a greasy slick of mayonnaise? Pasta salads can be some of the freshest, most summery foods in your repertoire, and they also are the perfect lunch food — they keep for days in the refrigerator and are a little meal all in themselves. Here's one from my own kitchen: A fresh salad tossed with olive oil, cauliflower, and bright green edamame.