Monday, July 12 Pappardelle with ‘Nduja and Cavalo Nero
Tuesday, July 20 Creamed Corn Pasta
Sometime in July Tuscan Bean Salad
If you haven’t totally forgotten about the blog, you may be thinking a number of things:
- The guy who writes this blog is not very reliable.
- Has the guy who writes this blog lost his sense of time?
- Has someone kidnapped the guy who writes this blog?
- Has the guy who writes this blog been hired as the executive chef of a Four Seasons Hotel and does he no longer have the time to blog?
- Has the guy who writes this blog fallen, hit his head and developed temporary amnesia?
- Has no food been cooked in the last week by the guy who writes this blog since the middle of June, so that he cannot, honestly, produce a new post?
- I don’t care about the blog anymore.
Well, 1. Is sort of true, as is 2. and, while it would disappoint me, perhaps 7. But it is not true that I have been kidnapped, hired as an Executive Chef, developed amnesia or not cooked in the last week 7 weeks. Nor have I lost my sense of time – indeed I feel the pressure to get back on the horse I’ve fallen off. (I mean the blog which is hard to picture as a horse, so please disregard that metaphor.)
Now that we have that out of the way, let’s get on to what is a seriously overdue posting. The beauty is that we have weeks of cooking to choose from. So, it’s only fair that we make up for lost time by giving you two recipes – one supremely simple and simply made for pleasant summer nights when you can eat out-of-doors, the other pretty easy but made for those nights when you have to eat in an air-conditioned room, or for late autumn.
The first simply marries a cube of watermelon to a basil leaf topped with a square of feta, all of it held together with a toothpick which also serves as a handle to grab this most fitting of summer appetizers. The second is a pasta with an ingredient which should make it heavy but, in fact, does not. This, believe me, will become a new favorite for your family.
Appetizer of Watermelon, Basil and Feta
(I probably heard of this or saw it somewhere, but I can’t remember)
The instructions for this are in the paragraph just above the recipe. I suggest that you buy one of those small, spherical melons. Just cut it in half, shave off the rind and cut it into planks about ¾” thick, then cut those into cubes. You’ll also want to buy a feta that comes in brine (the drier stuff will crumble too easily) and cut it to half its thickness, and then into cubes. I leave some of the watermelon covered with just the basil for the diet-conscious and some without even the basil (just the toothpick for handling).
Pappardelle with Cavolo Nero (supermarkets usually call this ‘Tuscan Kale’) and ‘Nduja
(adapted from Nigella Lawson’s Cook, Eat, Repeat: Ingredients, Recipes and Stories
Nigella’s voice is as beguiling as her face and it was hearing her interviewed by Christopher Kimball on Milk Street Radio that sold me on getting her new cookbook. Everything we’ve had from the book has been fine, and her advice on ingredients is great. Her stories are sometimes very good, but it must be said that there is a lot of filler in this book. This particular recipe, whose ingredients I did not share with Beez until she tasted it – salami paté not being on her list of preferred foods – would appear to be somewhat heavy with the ‘njuda and the potato. In fact, it is light, though very savory. It falls into the category of ‘irresistible,’ so don’t cook this if you’re on a diet, unless you have 5 other people to share it with.
Timing: About 45 minutes
Ingredients: Feeds 5 or so
1 large russet potato (about 10 oz.)
1 ¼ pounds Tuscan Kale (Cavalo Nero) or some other Kale
1 pound pappardelle (durum wheat, not egg pappardelle)
4 tablespoons butter
6 oz. of ‘njuda (that’s about 1/3 of a cup – or, do what I did and buy a 6 oz. jar of Tutto Calabria ‘Nduja Pasta Sauce – Pennsylvania Macaroni and Labriola’s carry this, or you can buy it online.) ‘Nduja is a paste made from salami – it is pronounced ‘en-doo’-ya
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil plus more to serve.
Fill a large pan with cold water, salt profusely (you’ll be cooking the potato and the pasta in this pan).
Peel and cut the potato in ½” pieces – this will help it break down during the cooking. (You’ll have no chunks of potato, simply a hint of potato when you’re finished.) Add the cubed potato to the water and bring to a boil.
Get out a large skillet or small Dutch oven (it’s going to end up holding all of the ingredients)
Stem the kale and tear it into bite-sized pieces
After the water with the potato comes to a boil, cook the potato for 10 minutes and then add the pappardelle and, once the water comes back to a boil, add the kale as well and cook the whole shooting match for 1 minute less than recommended to finish the pasta.
While the potato and pasta and kale cook, melt the butter gently in that large skillet or pot over low and then add the ‘nduja. [If using the bottled stuff like we did, it will become a sauce almost immediately – if using traditional ‘nduja you’ll need to stir it into the butter for a while and may need to loosen it with some of the pasta water.]
When the pasta is finished, reserve a cup or more of the water and add the drained potato and pasta to the sauce. Turn everything to mix and add as much of the pasta water as needed to create a uniform, clinging sauce.
Add a little more extra-virgin olive oil and mix again and serve. Offer more oil to those (not Beez, please) who like it.