November 22 – November 28, 2021
Monday: Hot Sausage and Peppers with Salad
Tuesday: Leftovers with Greens Pot Pie
Wednesday: Pasta with Red Bell Pepper Crema
(Alas, no pictures. But All of us are very handsome or beautiful, Gabe is very tall, Barbara is very regal and I cook)
Thursday: Stewart Family Thanksgiving
Friday: Leftovers with Salad
Thanks to Everyone Who Reads This Blog
Grateful is not a strong enough word to describe the way I feel about my life – my family, Beez, our boys, my friends and teachers and, well, pretty much everything with the exception of arthritis and my annoying inability to remember the word “Romaine.”
My Thanksgiving hope is that you feel the same and that you are reminded of this every time you read a news report about immigrants sleeping under bridges or freezing in Belarus, or Uighurs in China – in other words that you be grateful not just on Thanksgiving but 24/7, 365 days a year. Except, of course, in 2024 when you’ll need to be grateful 366 days in the year.
It is quite easy – when you are as blessed as are most of the people who read this blog – to take your good fortune for granted. A little comparison with people who worry about their next meal or their very lives can help to put the mild stress over a business presentation or an SAT test into perspective. Or – need I add – the slight discombobulation those of us who cook feel when we start to prepare Thanksgiving dinner.
I trust that your Thanksgiving dinner was as good, rollicking, voluminous and happy as ours was. In which case, any concern over lumpy potatoes or gravy or dry turkey or anything else faded just after your guests started arriving.
And, while it would be in keeping with the permanent anachronism of this blog (it’s always the food we cooked last week or the week before) to share our Thanksgiving recipes with you, that would be completely useless for the next 11 months. I’ll try to remember to send you the Chipotle Pepper Smashed Sweet Potatoes next year before Thanksgiving. I’ll just say now that if the Aztecs had had this recipe they could have subdued Cortez with a simple dinner.)
So we’ll share one of our simpler dinners from last week which is as pretty as it is satisfying. Corzetti with Red Pepper Crema, a recipe from Marc Vetri’s Mastering Pasta was the basis for our Pasta with Red Pepper Crema. I say basis because, although I have owned this book for many years I have yet to master the art of making my own pasta. Vetri is a wonderful chef and the owner of one of my favorite restaurants – Vetri’s in Philadelphia. His book is comprehensive and detailed, perhaps a bit too much so for the average home cook like me. But I have found that his sauces, which I can make, go well with store-bought dry or fresh pasta. And this particular recipe, featuring roasted, puréed red bell peppers was a natural for us – we love bell peppers, including the pleasantly bitter green ones.
If you want to make your own fresh pasta, please do so and may I add that I’m impressed. Here’s a sauce that will make you happy, whatever type of pasta you use.
Pasta with Red Bell Pepper Crema
(adapted from Marc Vetri, Mastering Pasta
Timing: About 36 minutes
Ingredients: Feeds 4 heavy or 6 light eaters
5 red bell peppers
1 tablespoon sherry vinegar
6 tablespoons olive oil
1 lb. pasta – we used Fettucine. You want a fair amount of surface that will let the sauce coat the pasta. Vetri uses fresh corzetti for this dish, a sort of stamped-coin shape.
4 ounces of For di capra cheese if you can get it – or use any flavorful goat cheese.
Roast the peppers on your stove top. Turn on the burners, prop the peppers so that they are charred by the flames and, using tongs, turn the peppers as needed to get them charred all over. [Note: if you have an electric range, roast the peppers under a broiler. You can also roast them over a charcoal grill.] Take your time, you want really charred skin so that you can remove it easily.
When the peppers are roasted to your liking, put them in a large bowl and cover with wrap and let them steam for 15 minutes.
While the peppers are steaming, fill a large pot with water and get it hot on the stove – you’ll turn it to high when you’re ready to cook your pasta.
When you can handle the peppers, remove the skin – you can do this by hand if you’ve roasted them well. A little running water can help here – you can rinse the skins from your fingers. Now slit the peppers and remove the seeds and ribs and stem and place them in the bowl of a blender or food processor. Add the vinegar and blend until smooth. Slowly add 4 tablespoons of olive oil. Taste and season with salt and pepper.
Now bring the water to a boil, salt it heavily and add the pasta and cook to just al dente (you can finish it in the sauce). Reserve some of the pasta water and drain the pasta.
While the pasta is cooking, place the crema in a deep sauté pan and add the remaining two tablespoons of olive oil and a few grinds of black pepper. Add a few tablespoons of pasta water and cook over medium-high until the sauce is creamy – between 2 and 3 minutes.
Use a slotted spoon or spider to transfer the pasta to the pan with crema when it is cooked. Toss and stir vigorously until the sauce reduces a bit and coats the pasta – keep everything moving until the pasta and sauce come together. Taste and adjust the seasonings. Plate and serve with goat cheese shaved over the top.