Blog Archives

Vegetarian Pasta Salad

Far from the standard American pasta salad, August grew up with something more Mediterranean-inspired.  Her mom would usually add chicken or shrimp, but this mix can also be made like a side dish or a vegetarian option when meat is omitted.  Pine nuts are also a great touch, if the mood strikes you.

Makes a boatload

16 oz. of preferred pasta noodles (pictured here are mini farfalle)

1 green zucchini, diced

1 yellow squash, diced

25 grape tomatoes, cut in half lengthwise

1/2 of an extra large red onion, slivered very thinly

1 small can of pitted and sliced black olives

1/4 cup of grated or shaved parmesan cheese

1/4 cup of olive oil

2 tbs. of balsamic vinegar

5 basil leaves, chiffonade (very tiny ribbons)

1 tbs. of capers, roughly chopped

1/2 tsp. of dried oregano

1/2 tsp. of dried thyme

Salt and pepper to taste

Cook the pasta al dente.  Strain and rinse with cold water to take away any excess starch.  Let cool.

making the vinaigrette

making the vinaigrette

In a bowl, combine the olive oil, balsamic vinegar, capers, salt, and pepper.  Also add the oregano and thyme, crushing with your fingers to activate the oils in the herbs.  Whisk together until completely emulsified.

fresh vegetables

fresh vegetables

Once you have prepared your vegetables, toss them with the pasta, vinaigrette, and parmesan cheese.  Keep and serve cold.

done and yum

done and yum

Wild Mushroom Risotto

Both of us grew up in mushroom-embracing households.  Frankly, we find it difficult to believe that there are people in the world who don’t like mushrooms.  To celebrate our favorite fungi, Chef Zach chose a broad variety of mushrooms from our local Whole Foods to put into a delicious and rich risotto.

Makes 5-6

morel, trumpet royale, alba clamshell, brown clamshell, forest nameko, velvet pioppini, and dried porcini

morel, trumpet royale, alba clamshell, brown clamshell, forest nameko, velvet pioppini, and dried porcini

4 cups of hot chicken stock

1 1/2 cups of arborio rice

1 1/2 cups of dry white wine

8 oz. of any sort of collection of organic mushrooms, cleaned of dirt

1 medium white onion, diced into 1/4-inch pieces

1/2 cup of grated parmesan cheese

4 large trumpet royale mushrooms, cleaned of dirt and sliced

4 morel mushrooms

1 oz. of dried porcini mushrooms, soaking in 2 cups of hot water

3 tbs. of butter, divided

2 tbs. of kosher salt

2 garlic cloves

A small amount of extra virgin olive oil for sauteing

processed porcinis

processed porcinis

After 10 minutes of soaking, remove the porcinis from their soaking water and transfer them to a food processor.  Reserve about 1 1/2 cups of the soaking water from the top (any silt will have settled to the bottom).  Using 1/4 cup of the clean soaking water, add a little at a time to the porcinis as you pulse them in the food processor to make a paste.  Set aside.

Heat the olive oil in a large saute pan over medium-low heat.  To this, add the chopped onion and whole garlic cloves.  Cook until the onions are soft and translucent, but you don’t want to brown or caramelize them.  At this point, remove and discard the garlic, and add the rice.  Cook for about 3 minutes to lightly toast the rice, still over medium-low heat.  Add the remaining clean soaking water and the wine to the onions and the rice; continue cooking, stirring occasionally and making sure nothing sticks to the bottom of the pan.

sauteing mushrooms

sauteing mushrooms

In a separate saute pan, combine a little bit of olive oil and 1 tbs. of butter.  Melt together over medium heat.  In this pan, saute the whole mushrooms for 6-7 minutes until slightly tender, being sure not to overcook them.  Set aside when done.

The liquid in the risotto pot will continue to reduce as it cooks, so add chicken stock as necessary.  This will occur somewhat frequently, so be watchful.  As time goes on, you will have to stir more frequently.

When the rice is mostly done, add the porcini paste, parmesan, 2 remaining tbs. of butter, sauteed mushrooms, and salt.  Cook for an additional 4-5 minutes to reach full doneness.

done and dying to be devoured

done and dying to be devoured, in arakawa pottery

Homemade Gnocchi with Gorgonzola Cream Sauce, Truffled Walnuts, and Early Spring Salad

Gnocchi is our favorite pasta; it had been for each of us before we knew each other, so it was one of those “it was meant to be” things we gushed about when we met.  Zach grew up with it in his nonna’s kitchen with Sunday gravy, and he made thousands while working in Vegas, but tonight he finally made it from scratch for August.  So filling and so rich with the Gorgonzola cream sauce, we balanced it with a salad with bright, tart produce.

Makes 4

• For the gnocchi:

3 lbs. of russet baking potatoes

2 cups of all-purpose flour

6 egg yolks

1/2 cup of grated Parmesan cheese

1 large pinch of freshly grated nutmeg

Salt and pepper to taste

potatoes, flour, egg yolk, parmesan, nutmeg

potatoes, flour, egg yolk, parmesan, nutmeg

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.  Place potatoes on a baking sheet, then bake for about 1 hour to 1 hour 15 minutes until slightly overcooked.

gnocchi and more 016

Use rubber gloves to protect your hands, and peel away the skins to discard.

gnocchi and more 023

Run the potatoes through a potato ricer, or grate them with the large holes of a hand grater; this should yield roughly 2 cups.

gnocchi and more 027

Mound the potato, leaving a well in the top, to which add the egg yolks, cheese, nutmeg, salt, and pepper.

Using your hands and a bench scraper on a lightly floured surface, mix well and then little by little fold and press in the flour – kneading will overwork it.  If the mixture is too dry, add a little water or an additional egg yolk.  The dough will feel firm but will give under slight pressure.  Form into a loaf so that portions are easier to cut.

gnocchi and more 046

Divide the dough into 5 pieces and roll out into 1″-thick ropes.  Cut each rope into 1/2″-long pieces, lightly flouring as you cut them.

gnocchi and more 050

After 1 hour of resting and being flipped over at the half-hour mark, these can now be cooked.  Heat water to a light bowl in a large pot of water with a pinch of salt.  Drop in the gnocchi; they will immediately sink, and once they rise back to the top, cook for about 90 seconds more.

gnocchi and more 069

Remove from the water with a skimmer, let drain, and serve as desired.

• For the Gorgonzola cream sauce:

1 1/2 cups of heavy whipping cream

4 oz. of Gorgonzola cheese

1 roasted garlic bulb, peeled

Salt and pepper to taste

gnocchi and more 068

In a medium saute pan, bring cream and garlic to a low simmer over medium-low heat.  Add the Gorgonzola cheese and mix until fully combined and the mixture is smooth and creamy.  Add salt and pepper to taste, and toss the gnocchi.

• For the walnuts (a nice touch with the gnocchi texture and Gorgonzola flavor):

1/2 cup of walnuts halves

1 tbs. of truffle oil

2 tsp. of truffle salt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Roast walnuts for 12 minutes, then immediately upon removal from the oven, toss in the truffle oil and truffle salt.  Garnish the gnocchi.

gnocchi and more 075

• For the salad’s vinaigrette:

1/2 cup of extra virgin olive oil

1/2 cup of freshly squeezed blood orange juice

1 tbs. of balsamic vinegar

1 tbs. of finely minced red onion

1 tsp. of Dijon mustard

1 tsp. of Marshall’s Farm thistle honey

Salt and pepper to taste

gnocchi and more 056

In a bowl, combine all ingredients except the olive oil and mix until well blended.  Slowly drizzle in the olive oil while mixing until somewhat thickened and emulsified.  Serve with a salad of baby spinach, green romaine lettuce, green leaf lettuce, tango lettuce, green oak lettuce, lollo rossa lettuce, radicchio, red romaine lettuce, red leaf lettuce, red oak lettuce, red butter lettuce, red bok choy, arugula, and mizuna (essentially a spring mix with spinach added).  Other recommended toppings are blood orange supremes, dried cranberries, halved cherry tomatoes, and red onion slivers.

gnocchi and more 066