Our artichoke harvest has been meager so far this year: one lonely bud. The girls’ enthusiasm to eat it buoyed it straight from the back yard onto this week’s menu, where it was luckily joined by a larger bag of artichokes from our CSA.
I always end up feeling that artichokes are worth the work, don’t you? I usually take the easy way out and steam them in eighths, but at least once a year I roll up my sleeves, clear my counters, and set to work cleaning and slivering artichokes for this recipe. When you’re done, the deep, haunting flavor of any passable artichoke is magnified by caramelization, teased out by rosemary, and slathered across a gorgeous pile of pasta. I confidently assert that this recipe is worth the hour it takes.
Here’s a decent photo tutorial showing the steps for reducing a healthy-looking artichoke to a very-tasty shadow of its former self. You can use artichokes of any size for this recipe–baby artichokes won’t have the thistle-blossom choke in the center, but if you use a larger artichoke you can just scoop out the choke with a paring knife or grapefruit spoon as you go. Thinking of the task as meditative rather than repetitive helps.
The lifestyle indulgences I go in for might seem quirky, I admit. In some ways I’m frugal: our cars are old, I usually upgrade my wardrobe only when actual holes in my clothing require it, and we’ll probably never update our very-1980’s kitchen. But other times, I splurge indiscriminately: finding myself in a new grocery bulk section last week, I bought a bag of every unfamiliar dried bean there.
Yellow beans! Pink beans! Speckled beans! Tiny beans! And more, many more. I have only one source to blame for this new obsession: Rancho Gordo. A local shop carries their beans, which have opened my eyes to the wide world beyond black and white beans, familiar pintos and chickpeas. I have fallen down the dried-bean rabbit hole and I like it here.That charmer pictured above is Rancho Gordo’s Ojo de Cabra, a meaty beauty of a bean so succulent that I kept plucking them from the bubbling pot despite the peril to my fingertips. Like all beans, they’re even better the next day, and that’s when I suggest that you make this pasta.
This dish is fine and dandy with drained canned white beans (maybe add a little chopped fresh rosemary in that case), but it is even better as a showcase for an excellent bean if you cook it yourself and use a few scoops of the bean broth to finish cooking your pasta.
Do you have a favorite bean, or an unusual recommendation that I should seek out? Please tell me!Continue reading →
I like my friend Knox for lots of reasons, one of which is that everything he cooks (and bakes, and preserves) is divine and he always shares his recipes. He always has good ideas, and several projects up his sleeve at once, so you won’t be surprised to learn that among his many accomplishments, Knox is the granddaddy of Soup Swap. (What, you haven’t held a soup swap yet this year? It’s not too late! The rules are here.)
And I think it was at Knox’s first soup swap, more than a decade ago, that he made us The Best Tomato Sauce for the first time. There were lots of us, and lots of frozen soup, packed into Knox’s tiny house, and in characteristic fashion he breezily served steaming bowls of pasta to all of us crowded onto the couch and floor and standing in every corner and doorway. The sauce was incredible. I squeezed after him into the arms-width kitchen and wrote down his instructions on a now-battered-and-stained recipe card.Continue reading →
There’s a new category of food in our house these days that I like to call “decadent vegan.” Regular vegan food, as everyone knows, is steamed quinoa with shredded carrots and a squeeze of lemon, but decadent vegan food is different. It’s this creamy, hearty pasta, and my first experiment with deep-frying and that addictive roasted squash salad that we’re still making every chance we get. In truth, a lot of recipes on this site fall into the decadent vegan category, but for some reason I hadn’t thought of them that way before. This year, I’m making a conscious effort to cook more vegan meals. Decadent, delicious vegan meals.
What are your favorite recipes or ideas that fall into the decadent vegan category? Please share!
If you keep a jar of caramelized onions in the fridge, as I’ve been doing lately, this recipe can be prepared in the time your pasta takes to cook. And if you don’t keep a jar of caramelized onions in the fridge, I encourage you to start. Continue reading →
The other day I was chatting with a neighbor and I discovered that we have a few things in common. We’re both enthusiastic home cooks, we both have lots of kids, and we share the conviction that parents who claim that their kids eat everything are lying. Right? Right?
Tonight my four year old actually claimed to be scared of the few Brussels sprouts threads that made their way into her dish. “I’m scared of this one!” she exclaimed dramatically, fishing out a microscopic green strand. “And this one!” Continue reading →
I have a soft spot for those unreasonably large Greek “gigantes” beans. They’re lima beans, maybe? They’re fat and meaty and they make their presence known. Here they nestle into a soft bed of pasta and roasted vegetables. Small white beans could be fun too, though, especially if you use a shell pasta shape and let them get lost in the pasta swirls. Either way, the beans and pasta are elevated one step beyond peasant food by the sweet, flavorful roasted vegetables. Serve with a bracing, crisp, lemony salad for a nice flavor and texture contrast.
I meant to eat chocolate cake for dinner tonight. It was just one of those days. J kindly intervened and made me this instead. It was so good. Salty, creamy, hearty–and it even used up some of our CSA peppers. That man knows what I like. It was perfect for a chocolate-cake-for-dinner kind of night. Continue reading →
Have you made this tomato sauce? People swear by it. People LOVE it. People think it’s genius. I am completely undecided.
The sauce has only four ingredients. One of them is butter. The sauce was so fine-textured that it clung delicately and evenly to each individual noodle. Its flavor was the summer flavor of the good tomatoes I used, enriched with butter and salt.
With very little effort, this recipe produced a refined and tasty dish. Which made me notice that refined and tasty aren’t necessarily enough for me. Continue reading →
Someone taught my baby to say “stop it.” Life with a seventeen-month-old is undignified enough, I feel, without irate admonitions issuing from the tiny person over every little thing. Like when I try to change her diaper (“Stop it!”). Like when I take a ballpoint pen away (“Stop it!). Like when I insist that her carseat straps be buckled for travel (“No no no no STOP IT!”).
Imagine how she feels, though. She’s the baby in a family of five. We tell her to stop every time she innocently tries to tear a page from a book, or color on the table, or suck on the bottom of a delectable shoe. We may both be saying the same words, but there are days when we’re not exactly speaking the same language. Luckily, I can’t ever get down about it, because at the first sign of sadness this same baby rushes across the room, arms outstretched, yelling “Hug! Hug!” Hopefully she learned that from us, too.
At times like these, comfort food is occasionally in order for the whole family. And is there any comfort food that compares to baked pasta? I guess roasted vegetables, maybe, so I’ve combined the two here to hedge my bets. The children can pick out the cheesy pasta parts and I can console myself with all the eggplant that’s left in pan.Continue reading →
I want you to know something. Just now, at 11 pm, I got up off the couch, poured leftover soup into a bowl, and garnished it with parsley to take the photo below. Because the photo I had planned to use was admittedly drab, and because I want you to want to make this soup. I’ve never done that before; I usually just snap a photo as I go. Is that too ridiculous? Is it better or worse if I tell you?
But here’s the thing: I want to you to put this recipe in your mental recipe file. It’s an easy fix when dinner needs to be on the table in 15 minutes, and it’s a bowlful of soup when you need it most. (I, for one, always need soup most when I’m in such a rush that I only have 15 minutes to make dinner.)
This is peasant food, which means it’s all the best things: thrifty, filling, comforting. The name translates to “Pasta and Beans,” and those are the only essential ingredients. I never like to pass up the chance to add vegetables to things, though, so I included my beet greens and a couple of tomatoes. You can certainly select your own vegetables, or skip them all together. If you’ve already got cooked chickpeas or white beans handy, you’ll be glad; otherwise just open a can and you’re ready to go.