Lovage, Ramp & Asparagus Linguine

We are finally, officially sprung.

What should have been a weekend of paper writing turned into several long walks, a couple of impromptu movie dates, and pretty much the prettiest, most delicious cocktail that you ever did have.

Ladies and gentlemen, I present the Casa Rosada—a heady concoction of reposado tequila, Campari, coconut, lime, pepper tincture, and salt. Just typing this makes me contemplate hiking over to Grand Army Bar right now.

Casa Rosada Cocktail

But, then, I would have to get dressed.

Fortunately, Saturday’s farmers’ market foray yielded some flavors almost as delightfully springy as a pink flower in your pink drink…

Lovage, Ramp & Asparagus Linguine

  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 16 stalks asparagus, trimmed and cut into 2″ pieces
  • 8 ramps, trimmed and cut into 1″ pieces
  • 1.5 cups lovage leaves, roughly chopped
  • 2-4 ounces linguine
  • 1 egg
  • zest of 1 lemon plus 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons freshly grated parmesan
  • salt and pepper

Set a pot of water to boil with a hefty pinch of salt. Bring a medium-sized skillet up to medium-low heat with the butter and olive oil. Add the asparagus, starting with the stalks. Stir regularly. After a couple of minutes, add the asparagus tips and the whites and stems of the ramps. Cook for another couple of minutes, stirring regularly. When the water boils, add the linguine to the pot. Meanwhile, back in your pan, add the ramp leaves as well as the lovage and continue to stir frequently. Give your veggies a good dose of salt and pepper. When the linguine is just shy of done, scoop it directly into your pan along with 1/4 cup or so of the cooking water. Crank the heat up to high and stir continuously for a minute or so until the water disappears. Take off of the heat, crack the egg directly into the pan and continue to stir continuously for another minute. Add the lemon zest and juice, parmesan and more salt and pepper to taste.

Lovage Ramp Asparagus Linguine

This makes one serving. Scale up as you see fit, but know that this is a dish best served fresh. At under 20 minutes from start to finish, why not just make it again tomorrow night?

Lovage Ramp Asparagus Linguine 2

Dandelion Pasta with Anchovies & Ricotta

With school back in session, Wednesdays are once again a haze. I had hoped to wrap up my budgeting work before leaving the office, but was waylaid by other tasks. I made it home from class around 7:30, my head full of feminist theory and my stomach running on empty. Fortunately, I had a nice bunch of dandelion greens and a well stocked pantry.

This meal paired nicely with the dregs of Saturday’s Cabernet Sauvignon, which had thankfully not turned to vinegar on the kitchen counter. More importantly, it came together in 22 minutes flat, leaving me with enough time to catch up with my sister Upstate and finish those pesky spreadsheets.

Dandelion Pasta with Anchovies & Ricotta

Set a pot of salted water to boil. Bring a couple of tablespoons of olive oil up to medium heat in a large sauté pan. Peel and thinly slice a few cloves of garlic. Rinse and coarsely chop the dandelion greens, removing the ends if they are twiggy. If you aren’t that into bitter things, wait until the water boils and blanch the greens for a couple of minutes. (But, really, why in the world are you eating dandelion greens if you’re not down?) Once the oil is hot enough that droplets of water sizzle, add a few anchovies from your emergency jar and four or five of those small dried chiles that you bought at the fancy cheese shop on a whim (or a healthy pinch of red pepper flakes, which are probably the same thing at a quarter of the price). Stir constantly for a couple of minutes, add the garlic and continue stirring for one more minute. Add the greens to your pan and half a bag of penne to your pot. Stir both occasionally. Grind some black pepper into the greens. When the pasta is just shy of done, scoop it into the pan, allowing some of the water to migrate along with it. Cook for another minute or so and remove from the heat. Give it a quick taste and add salt if needed. (The anchovies may have done the trick.) Top each serving with a heaping spoonful of ricotta, a little lemon zest and juice, and a drizzle of olive oil.

Dandelion Green Penne with Anchovies and Ricotta

Pasta with Lacinato Kale & Creamy Delicata Squash

Yesterday morning I met a film crew at Walt L. Shamel Community Garden to discuss the future of food and the importance of community self-determination.

Jasmine Interviewing

There aren’t enough layers in the world to make two hours of standing around in 10-degree weather pleasant. A full 36 hours later, I was still craving something warm and comforting. As luck would have it, my evening meeting was canceled, affording me my first night at home in over a week. Even better, kale and squash from Saturday’s CSA share were waiting for me.

Pasta with Lacinato Kale & Creamy Delicata Squash

  • 1 delicata squash
  • 1 small red onion
  • 1-2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 refreshing beer of your choice
  • 1 sprig fresh rosemary
  • 2 tablespoons crème fraîche (or sour cream or whatever other recently expired dairy products you have on hand)
  • 1/2 tablespoon honey vinegar (or white wine vinegar)
  • 1/8 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
  • salt and pepper
  • 3 ounces spaghetti or any other pasta that suits your fancy
  • 1 large handful lacinato kale, stripped of its stems
  1. Set the oven to 450. Cut off the tips of your squash, slice it down the middle and scoop out the innards. Toss this in a baking dish along with a sliced red onion. Drizzle on a tablespoon or two of olive oil and pop it in the oven. (Sure, you could wait for the oven to properly pre-heat but, let’s face it, you’re hungry in the way one can only be in the depths of winter.)
  2. Crack open a beer, change into some sweatpants, and search online for a recap of Season Four of Downton Abbey because, damn, you can’t seem to remember a thing.
  3. After 15 minutes or so, strip the rosemary and stir the needles in with the onions, give the whole pan a good shake, and pop it back in the oven. Now would be a good time to set a pot of salted water to boil.
  4. When the squash is tender, pop it into the small work bowl of your food processor along with the crème fraîche, nutmeg, vinegar and a good dose of salt and pepper. Run the food processor, scraping down the sides and adding a little water if needed, while you tend to the rest of your meal.
  5. When the water boils, add the pasta. Scoop the onions and rosemary into the food processor and run a couple more minutes. Taste and adjust the seasoning with additional salt and pepper. A few minutes before your pasta is done, add the kale to the boiling water.
  6. Scoop the squash mixture into a small mixing bowl, add the kale and pasta along with a bit of the cooking water, and toss to combine. 

Half an hour after you walked in the door, you’ll be sitting down to a healthy, hearty and seasonal meal…and Season Five of Downton Abbey.

Pasta with Lacinato Kale and Creamy Delicata Squash

This Is Not a Scallop (Seriously)

Last night’s dinner was bay scallops atop a fennel, arugula, Golden Delicious and red onion salad dressed with a sesame oil and rice wine vinaigrette.

Bay Scallops with Fennel Arugula and Red Onion

The peppery arugula and the bite of the red onion helped to offset all that sweet. But something was missing. Were I a fancy chef, one of my kitchen crew would have arrived early that morning to prepare some puffed rice to add a dry, crispy element and my sommelier would have paired it with a crisp, lemony Sancerre. Alas, I am not a fancy chef. And so I ate my salad as is, standing at the kitchen counter, with a glass of the Pinot Noir that was already open. You could do worse for a Tuesday.

I arrived home tonight bearing king oyster mushrooms that one of my coworkers grew in quart jars full of coffee grounds in his apartment.

King Oyster Mushrooms

Jorge left the mushrooms in the office fridge, inviting us to help ourselves, provided we cooked them up and reported back on how they tasted. Um, they were good. Really good.

The king oyster mushroom’s unique shape–coupled with memories of last night’s good but not great dinner–inspired me to prepare them as though they were scallops. I’d be willing to bet that this technique would work well with all manners of fancy mushrooms. But it will lack a certain surreality.

Pappardelle with King Oyster Mushrooms & Arugula (a.k.a. This Is Not a Scallop)

  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 small leek (or shallot), minced
  • 8 oyster mushrooms, sliced into 1/2″ disks
  • 1 pinch red pepper flakes
  •  2 sprigs fresh thyme, stripped from the stems
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 6 ounces dried pappardelle (or other flat egg pasta)
  • 2 tablespoons dry vermouth (or leftover white wine)
  • 2 heaping tablespoons crème fraîche
  • 3 ounces arugula (or however much you’ve got)
  • zest of 1 lemon
  • salt and pepper
  1. Set a large pot of water to boil with plenty of salt. Bring the butter and oil up to medium heat in a large pan. Add you leeks and sauté, stirring continuously, for a couple of minutes. Add the mushrooms, red pepper, garlic and thyme. Cook, flipping the mushrooms occasionally, until they are golden. Deglaze the pan with the vermouth and allow to evaporate.
  2. Once the water boils, add the pasta and cook until al dente. Scoop the pappardelle directly into your pan, allowing some of the cooking water to transfer. Mix the pasta into the mushrooms and then turn off the heat. Add the crème fraîche, arugula, lemon zest, and salt and pepper to taste. Stir until the arugula is wilted but still bright green, adding additional pasta water as needed to keep it loose but not soupy.

King Oyster Mushroom and Arugula Egg Pappardelle

This should make enough for your dinner tonight and Jorge’s lunch tomorrow. Alternately, we could all agree not to tell Jorge and keep both servings for ourselves.

Whole Wheat Penne with Squid, Tomato & Feta

I started my new job yesterday. While having so much to do and so little knowledge of how to do it is intimidating (it will be a small miracle if I ever master our phone system), I am really excited about the work and the people.

I am not, however, stoked about the location. After 14 years of working in the heart of Greenwich Village, I find myself on 43rd Street and Avenue of the Americas. Yesterday’s lunch was a couple of so-so vegetarian empanadas from a cart, consumed while rushing in between meetings. Today I braved the touristic hordes in Times Square on the hunt for a healthy and delicious lunch. The place I had sussed out online turned out to be tiny and not all that. I am mystified by the lack of even a basic grocery store in the area (and really, really need to remember to bring almonds and dried fruit from home).

It seems I will be packing my lunch with far greater frequency than I have in the past. This is not a bad thing, but it will take a certain amount of forethought, particularly given that I am not much of a morning person.

I left work late but determined to cook enough of something to get me through Friday. The lovely and sustainably-minded Mermaid’s Garden was about to close up shop by the time I emerged from the subway. I grabbed a pound of their succulent Carolina White Shrimp to stash in the freezer for a future food emergency and scanned the counter for something to pair with the insane quantity of tomatoes I picked up from my CSA last night.

The squid from Rhode Island was only $5 a pound. Squid is generally economical, but this seemed too good to be true. Turns out it was not cleaned. The nice folks behind the counter assured me to that it wasn’t hard–separate the cap from the rest, slice off the tentacles just below the eyes, remove the plasticky hard thing (there’s probably a name for it) and, if you feel like it, peel off the skin. They assured me I could find YouTube videos if I got stuck and sent me on my way with a lemon (a charming touch).

Uncleaned Squid

I am here to report that cleaning squid is, in fact, just as easy as promised–which is a good thing since there was no way I was going to try to stream a tutorial with my hands covered in ink and guts. Less than an hour after walking in my front door, I was sitting down to this delicious dish while my lunch for the rest of the week cooled on the counter. 

Whole Wheat Penne with Squid, Tomato & Feta

  • 3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 1 medium onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 medium green pepper, thinly sliced
  • 2 cloves garlic, sliced
  • 1 pinch red pepper flakes
  • 12 ounces cleaned and sliced squid (about 1 pound pre-cleaning)
  • 3 large, very ripe tomatoes (or 1 15-ounce can)
  • 1/4 cup white wine (or ouzo if you happen to have it)
  • 8 ounces dried whole wheat pasta
  • 4 ounces feta, crumbled
  • fresh herbs (if you got ’em)
  • salt and pepper
  1. Place a pot of generously salted water over high heat. Bring a large skillet up to medium heat with 2 tablespoons of the olive oil. Add the onion and cook, stirring frequently, until soft and browned around the edges. Add the green pepper and continue cooking and stirring until softened. Add the garlic and red pepper flakes and cook stirring continuously for another minute or so until it smells amazing. Once your pot of water comes to a boil, add the pasta.
  2. Slide the peppers and onions to the edge of your skillet and add the remaining tablespoon of olive oil followed by the squid. Cook stirring constantly for a minute or two until the flesh is just opaque. Turn the heat all the way up and add the tomatoes, wine and a good measure of salt and pepper. When your pasta is still a couple of minutes from being done, use a slotted spoon to transfer it directly into the squid and tomatoes to finish cooking. Remove from the heat and stir in the feta, allowing it to melt a bit and thicken your sauce. If you have some fresh herbs (parsley, oregano, basil or mint), now would be a great time to add those as well.

Penne Squid Tomato Feta

Ratatouille Three Ways

This isn’t so much a recipe as a concept–one that employs the summer’s bounty and yields a nice supper, brunch for two, and an afternoon snack, all with minimal effort.

Make Ahead: 1) Crank the oven up to 400 and chop up whatever summer vegetables you have on hand. I used zucchini, yellow squash, fairy tale eggplant, and the roots and bulb of a bunch of baby fennel (which, YUM). 2) Toss the vegetables with a good quantity of olive oil, salt and pepper in a large roasting pan and pop it in the oven. 3) Let cook until you start to smell something really good. Give the vegetables a good stir and return to the oven until they are soft and nicely browned. This can be done a day ahead of time.

Summer Vegetables for Roasting

For Dinner: 1) sauté onion, garlic and red pepper flakes in some olive oil. 2) Add some chopped fresh tomato and cook just briefly before adding some of your roasted vegetables. 3) Stir in some freshly boiled al dente pasta, allowing a little of the pasta water to form a loose sauce. (I was feeding a friend who avoids gluten, so I went with a brown rice pasta, which was surprisingly tasty and toothsome.) 4) Cook for a minute or so, remove from heat, and toss with some fresh basil. 5) Serve with a nice dollop of ricotta cheese.

For Brunch the Next Day: 1) Set the oven to 400 and repeat steps one and two above, adding in all of your leftover roasted vegetables and substituting a fresh jalapeño for the red pepper flakes if you happen to have one on hand. 2) Stir in some fresh basil. 3) Reserve about a third of the mixture and spoon the rest into individual baking dishes, forming a hollow in the center. Crack a couple of eggs into each dish and pop into the oven until the eggs are just set.

Ratatouille Shirred Eggs Before

Ratatouille Shirred Eggs

For an Afternoon Snack: 1) Toast some nice bread in a dry cast iron skillet over medium heat. 2) Top with the last of your ratatouille.

Ratatouille Bruschetta

And that, my friends, is how you consume two zucchini, two yellow squash, a large bunch of baby fennel, half a pound of eggplant, three onions, a head of garlic, a bouquet of purple basil, and one jalapeño pepper in 24 hours.

Pesto Redux

I find myself working from home today while trying to fend off an illness whose most notable symptom is the sensation that there is a vise across the bridge of my nose. I left work early yesterday and it was all I could do to swing by the drugstore for some (to be used for legal purposes only) decongestants.

I rolled out of bed this morning, made some coffee, and got to work. By 12:30 I had sent 43 emails and held two conference calls. (Remember when sick days were a thing?) The vise was tightening. I was hungry and I had failed to stock the fridge. It was chilly and gray and I had no interest in donning pants. I was going to have to make do with what I had.

There was some kale from my CSA, a quarter cup of ricotta cheese that seemed to still be good, and an open bag of whole wheat penne. While I am not above making this a meal, it seemed a little sad. Then I remembered that rosemary-basil pesto I had frozen during the last gasps of summer and it all came together. Twenty minutes later, I was sitting down to a delicious lunch – and my next conference call.

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