Winter Food for a Summer Body

RECIPE: Fresh Whole Wheat Tagliatelle with Turkey Bolognese-Ragout

Turkey Bolognese with WritingThe weather is the dinner dictator in my life.  My body reacts to the temperatures, and I cook what my body wants.  Lately, London has been fickle.  After weeks, maybe months, it seemed like years, of rain, the sun is starting a coy flirtation.  But it’s still cold, and I’m in this kind of purgatory—craving winter foods but knowing spring and the requirement for something lighter is coming.  So I took a winter favorite, spaghetti bolognese, and gave it a spring-summer makeover.

I am lucky—the local supermarket in London sells fresh whole wheat tagliatelle.  I say, get whatever fresh whole wheat pasta shape is available to you.  It takes three minutes to cook, and is a no brainer.  The nutty texture is such a welcome counterpoint to the rich sauce—it’s worth seeking out.

Whole Wheat Tagliatelle with Turkey BologneseFor the ragout, I start with ground dark meat turkey and a barrel of vegetables: carrots, onions, and garlic.  Mr. English has wisely educated me that he will not eat turkey simply because it is healthy; he will eat it only if I remember to put flavor into it.  Noted.  That’s what the vegetables, along with the thyme and bay, are for.  He has assured me that in this instance, I have succeeded.

Once these are softened and cooked together, I add tomato paste and cherry tomatoes, along with vegetable broth.  Then I just let it cook down for as long as I have, between one and two hours.  Yes, it’s a long time.  It’s my Italian grandmother meal, and I make it on Sunday.  It freezes well.  But it is so worth it.  The sauce is not a wet Bolognese, but almost a turkey and tomato stew, full of the sweetness of the carrots and onions and garlic, cooked down to almost a paste, and the savoriness of the herbs.  You can eat chunks of turkey in that stewy way, perched above the tangle of noodles.  And on top, a flurry of shredded sharp Pecorino, because it needs that hit of salt.

Peas SaladI have already made it twice in the last couple of weeks.  First, for Sunday night dinner when our friend Mary came over from around the corner for our weekly gossip.  And again, when maman was in town and I invited over my in-laws.  Both times I served it with a salad that is more a shopping list than a recipe: pea shoots, blanched peas, lemon zest, lemon juice, toasted pine nuts, fresh torn mint leaves, ricotta, pecorino shavings, olive oil, salt, and pepper.  It’s just a triumph.  I feel like I stumbled onto something that might be valuable.  Gosh, I wish I had some in the freezer!

Fresh Whole Wheat Tagliatelle with Turkey Bolognese-Ragout
serves 3 to 4

Whole Wheat Tagliatelle with Turkey BologneseINGREDIENTS

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 yellow onion, finely diced

3 small or 2 large carrots, cut into thin half moons

Salt and pepper

4 medium cloves garlic, sliced

1 pound ground dark meat turkey

1/4 cup tomato paste

1 bay leaf

1 tablespoons chopped thyme

2 tablespoons chopped parsley

2 cups cherry tomatoes

2 cups vegetable stock

1 pound fresh whole wheat tagliatelle, or other pasta

METHOD

Head the oil in a wide sauté pan.  Add the onion and carrots, season with salt and pepper, and sweat for ten minutes.  You don’t want the vegetables to take on any color.  Add the garlic, and sweat another 2 minutes, or just until fragrant.

Push the vegetables to the outer edges of the pan, and add the turkey to the center.  Season with salt and pepper.  Use a wooden spatula to break up the meat, stirring often, until all the meat has changed color, about five minutes.  Add the tomato paste, and stir into the meat and vegetables, cooking out for 30 seconds.  Add the thyme and parsley, cherry tomatoes, and stock.  Cover, and simmer for around 90 minutes, until the pan is mostly dry and the sauce is very thick.

To serve, boil the pasta until just cooked in salted water.  Drain.  Toss with the turkey ragout, drizzle with olive oil, and top with freshly chopped parsley and shredded Pecorino cheese.

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Categories: Cheap, Easy, Eat, Main Courses, Poultry, Recipes
 

Maille Honey Double Mustard Salmon

RECIPE: Maille Honey Mustard Double Salmon en Papillote

Maille Honey Mustard Salmon

I am stuck in the dreary February doldrums.  In London, everyday it rains.  Sometimes in great smacking sheets, sometimes in impertinent little drops, but all the times our cup runneth so over that the sight of it is making my mind prune.  The rivers run wild, the ground is officially drunk, and it often seems like the sun will never come out tomorrow.

It’s times like this when being inside of hyperimportance.  I was charmed to be invited to the London outpost of Maille mustard.  They could never have recruited a more fervent disciple.  My stepfather sits down to every lunch with a jar of Maille mustard and a jar of Maille cornichons (usually that we’ve wrapped in bubble wrap and spirited away from France) and states wholeheartedly the jingle “il n’y a que Maille qui m’aille.”  I have been buying their cassis Dijon for years as a base for vinaigrette.  I was already a convert.

The store is a mix of elegance and French country.  The pale rustic wood shelves are neatly lined with flavor after flavor of Dijon or whole grain mustards.  Great taps pull some of the fancier and more basic flavors from what I can only assume is a mustard keg.  Upstairs in an airy, bright mustard tasting bar, enlivened by antique moutardiers.  The mind boggles at the applications for some of the more exotic mustards.  Coconut and Colombo Spices.  Apricots and Curry.  Gingerbread and Chestnut Honey.  But I found they were used in sauces, dressings—even cocktails.

I gravitated more to simple and heritage flavors.  For saffron and crème fraîche I envisioned a mustard bouillabaisse.  For the Provençale, a mustard-based aïoli.  For the walnut, a thick, true vinaigrette using the walnut oil so often used on salads in France—that’s good!  And the black olive I bought and have been using straight out of the jar as a dip for multigrain pretzels.  I also loved the Sundried Tomato and Piment d’Esplette.

My favorite two, aside from classic Dijon and wholegrain that I always, always have (you can buy beautiful mustard pots at Maille, and they refill these with these two basic necessities from the upstairs tap), I was taken with the honey Dijon and the Honey Balsamic.  The Honey Dijon a creamy smooth tan, and the Honey Balsamic nearly black—stunning, unusual, and frankly breathtaking.

Balsamic Mustard

There is something cozy about stormy weather when you’re stuck inside somewhere warm and beautiful, but it’s another thing entirely when you arrive home work with your hair plastered against your cheek, pruned toes, and a chill in your bones.  I’m less inclined to cook, to make something complicated, because I’m just worn out.  But at the same time, I’m craving something hearty.  I was so happy, the other night, to pull out my Maille mustards and get to work on some mood-lifting, stomach-filling alchemy.

In a little bowl, I mixed together crème fraîche with some Maille Honey Dijon and Maille wholegrain mustard.  One for the sweet heat, the other for the texture and slightly winier flavor.  Into a little papillote it goes with salmon.  In the oven, the juices from the salmon loosen the thick mustard mixture and it runs into a sauce.  Honey mustard salmon, hot and steaming, served with some good pain au levain and some butter greens (I had beautiful English purple greens—purple sprouting broccoli and flower sprouts).  I made it just for the two of us, me and Mr. English, and we sat happily, wetly, coldly down only fifteen minutes later to a perfect dinner.  It was devoured.

Maille Collage

Visit Maille in London.  Thank you, Maille, for the wonderful experience.  More Maille to come, both on this blog and in the US.

Maille Honey Mustard Double Salmon en Papillote
serves 4

Maille Honey Mustard SalmonINGREDIENTS

  • 1/4 cup crème fraîche
  • 2 tablespoons Maille honey Dijon mustard
  • 1 tablespoon Maille wholegrain mustard
  • 1 tablespoons olive oil
  • 4 6-ounce fillets of boneless salmon
  • Salt and pepper
  • Freshly snipped chives

METHOD

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.  In a bowl, mix together the crème fraîche, two mustards, and olive oil.  Set aside.

Cook the salmon en papillote, or in a parcel.  Tear off a sheet of aluminum foil large enough to comfortable envelope the salmon, and line it with a sheet of parchment just smaller than the foil itself.  Place one piece of salmon on the parchment on the foil, and season with salt and pepper.  Pour one quarter of the honey mustard mixture on fish.  Fold the parchment around the fish, and then fold the side edges of the foil in, then fold the top and bottom edges over each other to make a sealed packed.  Repeat with the remaining salmon and honey mustard sauce.  Place on a rimmed baking sheet and bake for 12 minutes.  Open the parcels, and scatter in a sprinkling of chives.  Serve with buttered greens.

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Categories: 15 Minutes, Cheap, Easy, Eat, Fish, Main Courses
 

Cacio e Pepe Toasted Barley with Charred Fillet and Peppery Dark Greens Pesto

RECIPE: Cacio e Pepe Toasted Barley with Charred Fillet and Peppery Dark Greens Pesto

Barley Cacio e Pepe with Charred Steak and Dark Greens PestoMy last January recipe was very virtuous.  Over the years, I have come to understand that there are two kinds of virtue when it comes to food.  Caloric virtue, like this week’s black rice salad and miso-charred mushrooms that is low in calories.  Or nutrient virtue, like this steak with barley cacao e pepe, that, while it may have some typically no-no ingredients, is high in nutrients.  As a woman who has been vegetarian, lactose-free, FODMAP-friendly, and pescatarian at one time or another, I have come to understand that for me, giving things up completely actually can be more detrimental than eating healthy, whole food.  I find that eating a huge variety of whole foods means that when it comes to the vitamin and mineral front, I very rarely am leaving anything out, or overdosing, for that matter.  To do that, lately I have been trying to make some clever substitutions, like barley in this cacio e pepe, rather than white pasta.  As my friend and nutritionist Jessie Katz calls them–”smart swaps.”  Honestly, I love the barley so much in this dish, I feel like I went out collecting mushrooms and came home with a giant honest to goodness gorgeous black truffle.

The barley absolutely stole my heart, and I prefer this to the traditional pasta dish— I love this recipe.  I serve it with roasted kale.  Or caramelized fennel.  And charred artichoke hearts.  I eat it on its own.  I serve it with grilled fish.  It’s addictive.  When I asked Jessie why barley is a “smart swap,” I got an earful.  Barley is a source of both soluble and insoluble fiber, heart-healthy because it helps us regulate cholesterol.  It keeps us full and satiated by slowing the absorption of glucose into the bloodstream, helping us maintain stable blood sugar and energy levels.  Insoluble fiber keeps the digestive tract on track, and may help prevent colon cancer.  Fiber also provides food for the friendly gut bacteria that are so important to cultivate for good digestion and immunity.  Barley has a low glycemic index.  It’s cholesterol-free and low in fat.  It’s a source of niacin, thiamine, selenium, iron, magnesium, zinc, phosphorous, and copper.  AND it contains the phytochemicals and antioxidants that fight the free radicals that cause disease and aging.  It kind of almost doesn’t matter that it tastes better than white pasta–chewy, al dente, nutty, fabulous–but it does.  Jess says that if you can get hulled barley, that’s the kind to use, with the most health benefits.

I start with leftover cooked barley–or just cook some up on the night.  It put it into a skillet with a little bit of olive oil, instead of butter, and a lot of black pepper (the pepe) to toast. The barley starts to tan slightly in the heat of the pan, and the pepper starts to release its oils and gets even hotter and more peppery.  Then, a light sprinkling of Pecorino Romano cheese (the cacio) to finish it off with salty, nutty shower that melts into the barley.  You don’t need a ton, just a hint.  And between the heat of the black pepper and the saltiness of the Pecorino, you have this perfectly seasoned, hearty, chewy, nutty barley.  It’s fantastic.

I top it with simply grilled, sliced steak, which offers zinc, iron, and vitamin B12.  I start with a good filet mignon–Jessie recommends grass-fed beef because it’s lower in saturated fat but higher in unsaturated Omega-3s that fight inflammation and antioxidants–and rub it with just enough olive oil to coat it, and crust it with salt and pepper.  Then on the grill to char.

And on top of that, to accentuate the pepperiness in the barley, a simple pesto made from bitter greens (watercress, baby spinach, and arugula) and olive oil.  Jessie calls a pesto made from dark greens a “superfood” pesto because it’s full of vitamins A, C, and K, along with folate, iron, calcium, and magnesium.  Those nutrients, plus the antioxidants and phytochemicals found in dark greens “keep us healthy and strong, looking gorgeous, while helping to ward of disease, boost immunity, maintain bone strength, keep our energy levels up…and fight aging.”  Basil just got a hard act to follow.  Plus, the walnuts and garlic have their own health benefits, including selenium, omega-3s, polyphenols (which help fight memory loss) and vitamin E (an antioxidant that is great for skin).

The pesto melts into the hot steak, and a little bit of it mixes into the peppery barley.  The whole thing, altogether, makes me very happy.

Thanks to Jessie Katz for her nutritional insight on these January dishes.  Santé, everyone.

Get a taste of this recipe on Serious Eats.

Cacio e Pepe Toasted Barley with Charred Fillet and Peppery Dark Greens Pesto
serves 2

Barley Cacio e Pepe with Charred Steak and Dark Greens PestoINGREDIENTS

  • 2/3 cup barley, rinsed
  • Sea salt
  • 12 ounces beef tenderloin
  • 1 packed cup mixed bitter greens, such as watercress, spinach, and arugula
  • 1/2 clove to 1 clove garlic
  • 3 tablespoons chopped walnuts
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil, plus 3 teaspoons, divided
  • 1 tablespoon grated Pecorino Romano, plus 2 tablespoons
  • Freshly ground black pepper, plus 2 teaspoons

METHOD

I like to make the barley ahead of time, although that isn’t necessary.  The night before, I put the barley and a good pinch of salt in a stockpot and cover with two to three inches of water.  Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer uncovered until tender, about 35 to 45 minutes.  Drain, rinse under cold water, put into a plastic bag or bowl, and refrigerate until ready to use.

When you are ready to eat, take the beef and barley out of the refrigerator, and let them rest on the counter for 10 to 15 minutes.  Preheat a cast iron grill pan over medium-high heat.

While the meat is resting, make the pesto.  Place the greens, garlic, walnuts, 2 tablespoons olive oil, and 1 tablespoon of Pecorino Romano, along with salt and a good amount of pepper, in the food processor and whiz until smooth.  Set aside.

Salt and pepper all sides of the beef generously, and rub with 1 teaspoon of olive oil—this will help ensure the meat doesn’t still to the grill pan.  Char on the hot grill pan, turning four times so that all sides are charred, until desired doneness is reached.  For medium, cook 5 to 6 minutes on each of the four sides, until the internal temperature of the meat reaches 135 to 140 degrees F.  Set the meat aside on a board to rest.

While the meat is resting, make the cacio e pepe barley.  Heat 2 teaspoons of olive oil in a wide nonstick skillet over medium to medium-high heat.  Add the barley and 2 teaspoons of freshly ground black pepper, to toast.  Make sure to spread the barley out in the pan.  Stir intermittently for about 7 minutes.  Turn off the heat and scatter 2 tablespoons of Pecorino over the top.  Stir into the barley, allowing the residual heat to melt it.

To serve, divide the barley into two shallow bowls.  After the meat has rested for 10 minutes, cut into 1/2-inch slices, or thicker medallions—however you prefer.  Place on top of the barley.  Spoon one or two spoonfuls of the pesto over the meat, and top with some extra freshly cracked black pepper and / or torn arugula or watercress leaves for garnish.  Eat up!

NOTES

A great resource for the greens is actually the bagged salad aisle.  At my supermarket, they offer a bagged watercress, baby spinach, and baby arugula salad blend.  I just buy that and use it for my pesto.  The extra, I use for salad the next day, or I wilt it into wholegrain pasta.

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Categories: 30 Minutes, Easy, Eat, Main Courses, Meat, Recipes, Sides, Starches
 

Miso-Charred Mushrooms with Black Rice Salad

RECIPE: Ginger and Miso-Charred Portobello Mushrooms and Black Rice Salad with Green Vegetables and Sesame-Soy Dressing

Miso Charred Mushroom and Black Rice Salad

I can’t help it.  I am addicted to self-improvement. At least in January, I can get away with it more easily when the rest of the world joins in. New year, new us.

I specialize in French recipes, as you know, and sometimes, those can be pretty not self-improving. I do, quite happily, fall prey to a beckoning potato gratin every now and again. But what I love about food is that not only can you take pleasure in eating, but you can also take care by eating. You can eat yourself well. I like that idea–in fact, at times, I cling to it. Those who read my posts will know that my maman taught me most of what I know about those gratins; but she also, in times of sickness, taught me about raw vegetable juices, herbal infusions, complete proteins and complex carbohydrates. In my posts this January, I will share a bit of my other obsession, food that is delicious, but devilishly healthy. I get a real smirking kick out of make something good, good for me. It feels like beating the system. To help me I’ve asked my good friend the fantastic New York nutritionist Jessica Katz to weigh in on some ingredients.

This dish is a fresh warm black rice salad, full of all things green, and topped with miso-charred meaty Portobello mushrooms. I first discovered black rice with Jessie about a decade ago when she took me to the Union Square restaurant republic, and I became obsessed with finding it. Thankfully, it’s more readily available now.  It’s nutty, both in flavor and texture, and is full of antioxidants. Whole grain black rice has more fiber, protein, vitamins, and minerals than white rice. So the salad starts with a pretty good base.

A little secret to rice, which I picked up in France, is to boil it like pasta in a big pot of salted water. To that, I add edamame beans and strips of Savoy cabbage to quickly blanch them. The latter adds vitamin C and more antioxidants. Then, to the warm salad, I add cilantro, jalapeno, lime (even a little more vitamin C!), and scallions. All low-calorie ways to add texture and flavor.  The dressing is light and simple: soy sauce, a dash of sesame oil, and rice vinegar. I let it steep together so the warm rice soaks up the flavors of the rest of the salad while I put together the miso-charred mushrooms.

I was vegetarian for a long time, so I know that mushrooms are so healthful, because they are a vegetarian source of vitamin B. They also contain minerals, phytochemicals, and can be a great wintertime source of vitamin D if they were exposed to sunlight before or after harvest. Another dish to which Jessie also introduced me was miso black cod, my inspiration for these mushrooms. I smother the Portobello caps in a mixture of freshly grated ginger, sweet mirin, and white miso, which according to Jessie contains more vitamin B, minerals, protein, phytochemicals, fiber, and interestingly, as a fermented food, probiotics. I char the mushrooms under the broiler, and as the mushrooms wilt and become juicy, the sweet and spicy marinade caramelizes and bubbles up. It is so good.

Thickly slice the mushrooms, almost like steak, and perch them atop a pile of the warm black rice salad, studded with little flecks of green. The dish is light, but intensely savory, and fresh. It just makes you feel good, better—even, improved.

As we always toast in my house on New Year’s, santé!
Ginger and Miso-Charred Portobello Mushrooms and Black Rice Salad with Green Vegetables and Sesame-Soy Dressing
serves 2

Miso Charred Mushroom and Black Rice SaladINGREDIENTS

  • 1/2 cup forbidden black rice, rinsed
  • 1/4 cup white miso
  • 2 tablespoons mirin, plus 1 teaspoon
  • 2 teaspoons grated fresh ginger
  • 4 Portobello mushroom caps, wiped clean
  • 1 scant tablespoon rice vinegar
  • 1 scant tablespoon lime juice
  • 1 teaspoon soy sauce (optional: reduced sodium soy sauce)
  • 1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
  • 1/2 cup fresh edamame beans (option: frozen edamame beans)
  • 3 leaves Savoy cabbage, sliced into very thin strips
  • 2 scallions, very thinly sliced
  • 1/4 jalapeno, minced
  • 2 tablespoons chopped cilantro
  • 2 teaspoons toasted white or black sesame seeds

METHOD

Bring a medium-large pot of salted water to a boil.  Arrange the rack in the center of the oven, and pre-heat the broiler.

Add the rice to the boiling salted water, and cook without a lid until tender, about 35 minutes.

In a bowl, whisk together the miso, 2 tablespoons mirin, and fresh ginger.  Slather the mushrooms, top and bottom, with the miso mixture.  Place on a parchment-lined rimmed baking sheet, and broil in the center of the oven until tender and charred, turning once, about 20 to 25 minutes total.  Set aside.

While the rice is cooking, make the dressing by whisking together the rice vinegar, lime juice, soy sauce, remaining 1 teaspoon mirin, and sesame oil.  Set aside.

Once the rice has been cooking for 30 minutes, add the fresh edamame beans.  When the rice has only one minute left to cook (it’s been boiling for 34 minutes), add in the shredded cabbage.  If using frozen edamame beans, add with the cabbage at the 34 minutes mark.  Drain the rice, edamame, and cabbage all together in a fine-mesh colander.  Drain well, and decant into a large bowl.  Toss with the dressing, jalapeno, cilantro, and sesame seeds.

Serve the rice salad with the mushrooms, thickly sliced, perched on top.

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Categories: 60 Minutes, Easy, Eat, Main Courses, Recipes, Vegetarian, Vegetarian
 

Sicilian Pasta With Swordfish, Fennel, Mint, and Bread Crumbs

RECIPE: Sicilian Pasta with Swordfish, Fennel, and Mint Topped with Toasted Crumbs, Almonds, and Fennel Seeds

Swordfish Pasta with Fennel and MintWhen my husband suggested that we go on a honeymoon in Sicily, I was skeptical.

The he turned to me and said, “They eat nothing but olive oil, swordfish, and almond granita.”

I booked the tickets myself.

We started in Palermo and took a two-week road trip, driving around the island and up into the little volcanic specks that are Salina and Panarea. In that time, I drank olive oil fresh from the grove and hot off the press. I toasted our marriage with glasses of deep red and truest purple volcanic orange and grape juices. I stopped into Granite da Alfredo by boat, where the world’s best granitas are made by a kindly man in a tiny town on a tiny island, and spooned my way through not only the almond, but the lemon granita too. The honeymoon was simply a movable feast.

After it all, my favorite dish was a pasta primi that I ate one night in Taormina at L’Arco Dei Cappuccini, outside under a canopy, nestled around a table, drinking in the night and the hum of laughter and conversation wafting over from around the terrace. It was a pasta with swordfish and wild fennel—a perennial special that is apparently always announced but is never on the menu. The pasta looked like elbow macaroni after a growth spurt: long, ridged, curling tubes. The cherry tomatoes were fresh, as they always seemed to be on that island. The wild fennel and its fronds were chopped into tiny slivers. And the swordfish was crumbled, firm and white. Altogether, it was like a maritime bolognese.

Swordfish Pasta 2

It’s a popular dish, swordfish pasta. I had it with eggplant. With zucchini. With chilies. And in all the iterations, the swordfish was crumbled in that ingenious way that I had never considered before, and was so perfectly suited to the fish. As someone who prefers fish to meat, I felt like I had come into my perfectly suited spaghetti with meat sauce. And after tasting all the varieties available from Erice to Siracusa, my favorite was the one with wild fennel I had that night in Taormina.

In my version, I start with casarecce pasta, but you could use shells, corkscrews, fusilli, or even elbows. Sear the swordfish until it’s just cooked through, then dice it as finely as you can. Blitz the fennel with mint, fennel fronds, and garlic to make a rubble, and then sweat it with olive oil. Follow them into the pot with cherry tomatoes, and let the tomatoes burst over the heat. Add the swordfish, tear in more fresh mint, add a pinch of chili if you want it, and toss it with the pasta. Leave it there, or crown it with a crunchy mess of toasted breadcrumbs, almonds, and fennel seed.

Dig into a giant bowl, or do what I did in Sicily: have it to start, and follow with a simply grilled giant swordfish steak, tasting only of olive oil, lemon, and the sea.

Swordfish Pasta from Taormina

The original Taormina version!

Sicilian Pasta with Swordfish, Fennel, and Mint Topped with Toasted Crumbs, Almonds, and Fennel Seeds
serves 4

Swordfish Pasta with Fennel and MintINGREDIENTS

  • 4 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 1 cup fresh breadcrumbs (optional)
  • 1/2 cup sliced almonds (optional)
  • 1/4 teaspoon fennel seeds (optional)
  • Salt and pepper
  • 4 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
  • 1 small fennel bulb, roughly chopped
  • 1/4 cup, packed, mint
  • 1/4 cup, chopped fennel fronds
  • 1/2 pound swordfish steak
  • 2 pounds cherry tomatoes
  • 1 pound any shape of macaroni pasta

METHOD

Begin by making the topping, if using.  In a wide, nonstick sauté pan, heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil over medium heat.  Add the breadcrumbs, almonds, and fennel seed, and season with salt and pepper.  Toast, stirring often, until golden and crisp.  Remove to a bowl and set aside, and wipe out the pan.  There’s no need to wash it.

Prep the vegetables for the pasta sauce by pulsing together the garlic, fennel, mint, and fennel fronds in the food processor until finely chopped.  Set aside.

In a wide sauté pan, heat 1 tablespoon olive oil over medium-high heat.  Season the fish with salt and pepper, and cook, turning once, until just cooked through and opaque in the middle.  The time will depend on the thickness of your fish.  Remove the fish to a plate and set aside.

Add 1 tablespoon olive oil to the same pan, and lower the heat to medium.  Add the chopped garlic, fennel, and herbs to the pan, and season.  Sauté the fennel just until soft and fragrant, and add the tomatoes.  Use a potato masher to burst the tomatoes.  Cover, and reduce the heat to medium-low for 12-15 minutes, until you have a fresh sauce that’s still chunky.

Meanwhile, cook the pasta in salted boiling water until al dente.  Drain.

Remove the skin from the swordfish and chop into a fine dice.  Add to the tomato and fennel sauce, along with the drained pasta.  Keep on the heat for about another 30 to 60 seconds, while the pasta drinks in tomato juice, and toss.  Drizzle with fresh olive oil, and serve with the almond-crumb topping alongside.

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Categories: 30 Minutes, Eat, Fish, Main Courses, Recipes, Sides, Starches, Voyages
 

Quick Pickled Fennel

RECIPE: Pickled Fennel

I have tumbled into love with pickled fennel.  I always thought pickled onions were a great idea, but raw onions–they’re a little troublesome, aren’t they?  Smelly.  Sharp.

But pickled fennel.  Gently crunchy.  Slightly sweet.  Very savory.  Fresh.  I top burgers with it.  Mix it into salads.  Stuff into pan bagnat.

Get pickling!

Pickled Fennel

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 cup white wine vinegar
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 2 tablespoons coarse salt
  • 1 fennel bulb, very thinly sliced

METHOD

Place the first four ingredients in a small saucepan and bring to a boil to dissolve the sugar and salt.  Then decant into a large bowl, and allow to cool for 5 minutes.  When the mixture is still warm, add the fennel.  Allow to steep for 20 minuets.  Drain, and use.

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Categories: 15 Minutes, Eat, Recipes, Vegetarian
 

Thanksgiving Dinner for Two: One Pan, One Hour

RECIPE: Roasted Turkey Breast with Olive-Oil Smash Carrots, Brussels Sprouts with Chestnuts, and Herb Gravy
Roast Turkey with Smashed Carrots and Roasted Brussels Sprouts and Chestnuts

Roast Turkey with Smashed Carrots and Roasted Brussels Sprouts and Chestnuts

Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday.

My family has a fabulous tradition of popping open a bottle of good champagne, and going around the table before dinner, toasting what each person is thankful for.  We eat the American classics: roast turkey (the traditional beneficiary of the last toast) and pumpkin pie (at my insistence) and corn bread.  And we temper it with some French flavor to keep the rest of the family happy: potatoes au gratin, apple cider sorbet (contentious!), haricots verts.

But now I live in London.  My family is an ocean away.  My husband is English.  And I go to work like it’s any other Thursday.  While I come home at 8 o’clock, tired and hungry, I can’t let the day go unmarked.  While we may still uncork a cold bottle of champagne and say our own version of unorthodox grace, for the two of us, at that hour, it’s just not worth a whole turkey with all the trimmings.

So this year I’m doing Thanksgiving for two, in one pan, and in an hour and a half.  I start with a turkey roast, off the bone, and cook it with thyme, orange, and lemon.  In the same pan go the carrots (I found some gorgeous purple ones), which become olive oil-smashed carrots—a festive fall upgrade on mashed potatoes.  And on the other side of the pan, Brussels sprouts and chestnuts, which come out singed and festive.  A simple jus brews at the bottom of the pan, full of the sweetness of carrot and citrus, and the savor of thyme and sprouts.  After an hour and a half in the oven, the turkey is ready to slice, the carrots are ready to be quickly whizzed up, and the Brussels sprouts are soft and charred and perfect.  If I’m feeling ambitious, I’ll stew together some cranberries and ginger jam, to serve alongside.

By ten o’clock, I’m on the couch, licking pumpkin pie off my fork, and watching TV in true Thanksgiving style.  No, it’s not the Thanksgiving I’m used to, but it’s marvelous, and very apropos this moment of my life.  And it’s that life I’m thankful for, even if it requires a little bit of clever holiday rapidity.

Turkey for Two Before the Oven

Thyme-rubbed turkey, Brussels sprouts, chestnuts, and purple carrots, on a raft of citrus before it all hits the oven together.

Roasted Turkey Breast with Olive-Oil Smash Carrots, Brussels Sprouts with Chestnuts, and Herb Gravy
serves 2 with leftovers

Roast Turkey with Smashed Carrots and Roasted Brussels Sprouts and ChestnutsINGREDIENTS

  • 1 2 3/4-pound boneless turkey breast roast
  • 6 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1/2 lemon, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 orange, thinly sliced
  • 1 bunch fresh thyme, divided (about 3/4 ounce)
  • 1 pound Brussels sprouts
  • 7 ounces whole, cooked chestnuts
  • 1 1/2 pound carrots, trimmed and cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 2 cups vegetable or chicken broth

METHOD

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

Rub the turkey breast roast with 2 tablespoons of olive oil, salt, and pepper.  Set aside.

In the center of a metal roasting pan, make a bed about the size of the turkey of the sliced lemon and orange (I slice a whole lemon and a whole orange and reserve the extra for garnish).  Top the bed with half the thyme, still on the stem.

Remove the remaining thyme leaves from their stems, and lightly chop.  Rub onto the turkey, and place on the citrus and thyme bed.  On one side of the roastingpan, tumble in the Brussels sprouts and chestnuts.  On the other side, the carrots.  Toss each vegetable (not mixing with the other vegetable) with 2 tablespoons of olive oil, salt, and pepper.  Pour the broth into the pan.  Roast in the oven for 1 hour, or until the turkey reaches 165 degrees F, stirring the vegetables in their little corners once during cooking.  Set out for 10 minutes to rest.

Whiz up the carrots in the food processor with 2 tablespoons of thyme and 2 tablespoons of the brothy liquid at the bottom of the pan, and some soft thyme from the pan until you have a mashed potato-like consistency.

Slice up the turkey, and serve the smashed carrots and roasted sprouts and chestnuts alongside.  Garnish with the reserved citrus and more thyme.  Decant the cooking liquid into a gravy boat (you can stir in a touch of butter if you want), and happy Thanksgiving.

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Categories: 60 Minutes, Easy, Eat, Main Courses, Poultry