Archive for the ‘Pasta’ Category

Steamed artichokes with a mustard vinaigrette

Shaved fennel, blood orange and black olive salad
Cloudy Bay Sauvignon Blanc 2007

King oyster mushroom “osso bucco” over orecchiette drizzled with truffle oil
Cantina dei produttori Nebbiolo di Carema, Carema Riserva 2005


Sorry for the radio silence, I will put up real updates in the coming days.

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Today looks and feels like the first sunday of fall. I warded off the end-of-summer-blues with 2 fail proof anti-depressants: pasta and amontillado. I used orecchiette but linguine or spaghetti would work well too. And try to get your hands on Pioppino mushrooms, their nutty flavour works real well here, otherwise porcini or other hearty wild mushrooms will do.


  • 450 gr (1 lb) pasta
  • 225 gr (8 oz) Pioppino mushrooms, cleaned and chopped
  • 225 gr (8 oz) brown cultivated mushrooms, cleaned and sliced
  • 2 shallots, minced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 15 ml (1 tbsp) canola oil
  • 1o ml (2 tsp) fresh thyme, minced
  • 5 ml (1 tsp) pimentón (Spanish smoked paprika)
  • 150 ml (5 oz) Amontillado Jerez

for the cream

  • 170 gr (6 oz) soft silken tofu
  • 30 ml (2 tbsp) olive oil
  • 1,25 ml (1/4 tsp) nutmeg
  • 5 ml (1 tsp) agave nectar
  • fresh black pepper to taste
  • salt to taste

Bring a large pot of water to a boil and cook pasta until al dente.

During this time, make the soy cream by combining all the cream ingredients in a blender and processing until smooth and thick as crème fraîche. Reserve.

Heat the canola oil in a sauteing pan over medium-high heat, add mushrooms and sauté until golden brown. Add shallots, garlic and thyme, sauté for a couple of minutes. Deglaze the pan with Amontillado and continue cooking until most of the liquid is evaporated.

Turn the heat down to minimum, add the soy cream, stir and simmer 2-3 minutes. Add the cooked and drained pasta, toss well to coat with the sauce. Serve garnished with minced fresh parsley and pine nuts parmesan.

Serves 4

Wine pairing

Try a lightly oaked Chardonnay from Alto Adige. If you must drink red go with a Alto Adige Pinot Nero.

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I’ve been reading up about Puglia and apparently it’s influencing my food choices… Doesn’t get much simpler then this.

Pasta with roasted stem tomatoes, garlic scapes and bush basil.


  • 500 gr (18 oz) orecchiette pasta
  • 20 small vine tomatoes, left on the stem
  • 115 ml (1/2 cup) garlic scapes, chopped
  • 50 ml (1/4 cup) fresh bush basil leaves
  • 50 ml (1/4 cup) very good Extra Virgin olive oil
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 200 °C (400 °F).

Put the cleaned tomatoes, still attached to the vine, on a baking sheet and roast in the over until done, about 20-30 minutes. Keep warm.

While the tomatoes are cooking, boil pasta in plenty of water until al dente. Drain, reserving 115 ml (1/2 cup) of cooking water.

In a large skillet, heat up 15 ml (1 tbsp) olive oil. Sauté the garlic scapes for a few minutes until tender. Add pasta and reserved water and cook for a minute. Turn off heat when most of the water is evaporated. Add remaining olive oil, basil, salt and pepper. Toss to combine well and serve immediately.

Serves 4 as a main dish.

Wine pairing

Try a simple and good value Salice Salentino from Puglia.

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I love baby artichokes! Specially the tiny purple artichokes from Provence called “Poivrade”, so tender they can be eaten raw. They’re hard to find on this side of the ocean but so worth the hunt. Here’s a simple recipe that lets them shine.

Spaghetti with crispy baby artichokes, lemon, capers and parsley.


  • 16 baby artichokes
  • 50 ml (1/4 cup) capers, drained
  • 4 garlic cloves, peeled, finely chopped
  • 3 shallots, peeled, thinly sliced
  • 60 ml (4 Tbsp) olive oil
  • 500 gr (1 pound) spaghetti
  • juice of one lemon
  • zest of one lemon, grated (organic and untreated)
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 60 ml (4 Tbsp) fresh parsley, chopped

Have a bowl of water with the half the lemon juice standing by. Pull off the outer leaves from each artichoke, leaving only the inner, light green ones. Cut off the sharp tips and trim the stringy parts from the bottoms. Drop the trimmed artichokes (still whole) into the water & lemon juice mix, so they don’t discolor.

In a large frying pan, heat 30 ml (2 Tbsp) olive oil and sauté the garlic, shallots and capers until lightly browned. Season with sea salt and pepper. Remove and set aside, leaving the seasoned oil in the pan.

Using a sharp knife, slice the artichokes into 1/4-inch slices length wise. On a medium-low heat sauté until crispy brown on both sides. Work in batches, removing the finished slices to a paper towel to drain. Drizzle the pan with more olive oil as needed.

Cook the spaghetti in salted water. When you drain the pasta, reserve 2 cups of the pasta water.

Deglaze the pan with 30 ml (2 Tbsp) olive oil and 1 cup of the pasta water. Put the capers-garlic-shallots sauté back in the pan. Mix well and reduce the volume of the liquid by half. Add the spaghetti and toss to coat. If the sauce needs more liquid, add a little more pasta water. Add the lemon juice and zest. Season with sea salt and pepper to taste and toss well.

Serve the pasta topped with the crispy baby artichoke slices and chopped parsley.

Serves 4

Inspired by a New York Times recipe.

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After several impatient tries, I finally founds ramps at the market. Here’s a simple and quick spring time recipe that lets them take center stage. Enjoy!

Spaghetti with sautéed ramps


  • 250 gr (½ pound) Ramps
  • 450 gr (1 pound) Spaghetti
  • 30 ml (2 tbsp) Extra-virgin olive oil
  • 15 ml  (1 tbsp) finely grated fresh lemon zest
  • Freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • Maldon salt to taste

Clean the ramps by trimming the roots and removing the outer papery skin from the bulbs.

Cook pasta in boiling water until al dente. Drain and reserve 50 ml cooking water.

Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add ramps and cook until the bulb is tender and golden. Add pasta, reserved water and lemon zest to the skillet. Toss gently to coat the pasta with sauce. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Drizzle with additional olive oil (optional) and serve immediately.

Serves 4

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Roasted vegetable lasagna

This was an other super fast recipe as I had left over grilled veges and a package of fresh pasta in the fridge.

First I made a quick sauce with roasted tomatoes and garlic. Next, in a small metal dish I layered grilled eggplant, zucchini and mushrooms with pasta squares and homemade vegan “ricotta”. I spooned tomato sauce over the mini lasagna, topped it with chopped olives and baked it for 30 minutes in a 190° C (375° F ) oven.

While it baked, I made a green salad, open the wine and set the table and dinned was ready.

Vegan Ricotta

I block firm tofu
juice and zest of half a lemon
30 ml (2 tbsp) olive oil
1 ml (1/4 tsp) freshly grated nutmeg
5 ml (1 tsp) salt
fresh pepper to taste

Drain the tofu in a colander with a weight over it for 30 mins. Put all ingredients in a food processor and blend until creamy. Refrigerate a few hour to allow flavours to combine.

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For years I stayed well clear of gnocchi. The few times I had eaten them I found they were heavy, doughy and generally unappetizing. Then one night some time ago while at Hearth I was present with a small plate of them by the chef. The guy was standing right there waiting for comeback so I ate one, and to my amazement it was fantastic. As far as anything I remembered gnocchi to be, these tiny little things were so light and tender and just melted in my mouth. Delicious.

So after researching the gnocchi thing and asking cooks for tips and tricks, I decided to experiment a little.

My first attempt here, were served with a simple roasted tomato sauce.

For my second run it was with a shiitake, sage & Jerez emulsion sauce. Less photogenic but a more interesting combination of flavours.

Over all, I’m still unimpressed with the results. The texture was OK but not as tender and light as I want them to be. On their own they tasted a little of raw flour… So I guess I need to keep tweaking. Or maybe I’ve set the bar too high and gnocchi are only good at Hearth after all.


A good pairing with the shiitake, sage & Jerez sauce,  is a wine that will complement the earthy and smoky flavour of the dish. A Valpolicella Classico Superiore or a good Chianti Classico would do if you have loads of money to through at it or in the $20 – $25 range you’ll do well with a Barbaresco or a Barbera d’Asti.

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Continuing with Saturday’s Japanese dinner, here are a couple more recipes.

Cha soba noodles with traditional garnishes

Cha soba is green tea flavoured soba. Here it’s served cold with various garnishes and dipping sauce.


  • 240 gr (half pound) dry green tea soba noodles
  • 5 ml (1 tsp) sesame oil
  • 1 sheet nori, toasted and cut into match sticks
  • 2 scallions, finely chopped
  • 2 cm (1″) piece of ginger, grated
  • wasabi paste

Dipping sauce

  • 350 ml (1½ cups) water
  • 75 ml (1/3 cup) Japanese soy sauce
  • 75 ml (1/3 cup) mirin
  • 2 ml (½ tsp) sugar


Cook noodles in boiling water for 3-4 minutes until done but still firm. Carefull not to over cook them. Drain, rinse under cold water and drain well. Transfer to a bowl, toss with sesame oil and seeds.

In the oven or better, over an open flame, toast nori sheet then use scissors to cut into match sticks.

Combine all sauce ingredients in a saucepan and simmer for 5 minutes. Cool.

Arrange noodles on 4 plates, sprinkle with nori. Serve with individual bowls of dipping sauce. Present green onion, ginger and wasabi paste separately so people can garnish as they like.

Serves 4

Nasu dengaku

(grilled eggplant with miso glaze)

This is classic Izakaya fare. If you can’t find Japanese eggplants use any other young and small eggplants.

For grilled eggplant

  • 4 small Japanese eggplants, cut in half lengthwise
  • vegetable oil for brushing
  • sesame seeds

For glaze

  • 125 ml (1/2 cup) dashi
  • 15 ml (1 tbsp) sugar
  • 15 ml (1 tbsp) mirin
  • 60 ml (1/4  cup) white miso
  • 10 ml (2 tsp) corn starch
  • yuzu kosho pepper to taste (optional)

Start by making the glaze. Combine dashi, sugar, mirin, miso and corn starch together. Simmer until the sauce thickens. Remove from heat and whisk in yuzu.

Cut eggplants in half lengthwise and score the flesh to grab the sauce. Brush with oil and grill on a BBQ or under a broiler until the tops are a nice brown and the eggplant is cooked but still quite firm.

Cover the cut side with the glaze, sprinkle with sesame seeds and put under the broiler until caramelized (watch it, this happens very fast and you don’t want to burn them).

Serves 4


This glaze is quite delicious on very fresh grilled tofu (the stuff you buy from vendor in Chinatown not the bricks of rubber you find at the grocer).

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For this easy last minute raw recipe, use a mandoline to slice 2 large summer squashes into thin ribbons. Dress with olive oil, minced garlic and salt. Let rest for 1-2 hours.

For the sauce, cut 350 ml (1 1/2 cups) of cherry tomatoes length wise. Toss with olive oil, minced garlic, lots of fresh basil, salt and pepper to taste.

To serve, drain the squash and separate between 2 plates. Cover with the sauce.

Serves 2

If you have 2-3 hours more, add coarsely chopped black olives and some crushed chili pepper to the tomato mixture and dehydrating for 2-3 hours until the tomatoes soften. This greatly improves the taste and texture of the sauce.

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I could eat this every day but I try not to.

Pasta with broccoli rabe

Serves 6

60 ml (4 tbsp) extra virgin olive oil
175 ml (3/4 cup) fresh breadcrumbs
500 gr (1 lb) orecchiette
500 gr (1 lb) broccoli rabe very coarsely chopped
6 garlic cloves, chopped
10 ml (2 tsp) red pepper flakes
zest of one organic lemon

Heat half the olive oil in a skillet over moderate heat. Add the breadcrumbs and stir gently with a wooden spoon until golden brown. Set aside.

Bring a large pot of salted water to boil, drop in the pasta and greens and cook until al dente.

Meanwhile, in a large skillet sauté the garlic and the red pepper flakes in the remaining olive oil until the garlic is done.

Drain the pasta and broccoli rabe. Add to the skillet along with the lemon zest and sauté for a couple of minutes. Mix well, top with breadcrumbs and serve.

Wine pairing suggestions:

A dry red from Puglia such as a Primitivo di Manduria DOC or a Salento Negroamaro IGT.

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Chestnut & Porcini medaglioni with a porcini broth & olive oil emulsion sauce and crispy sage leaves.

I took a shortcut here and simply put the stuffing between ready made wonton wrappers. The medaglioni were assembled in minutes. While they were cooking, I fried the sage in good olive oil which I then used to make the super simple sauce with. Dinner was on the table in a flash.

Wine pairing suggestions:

Nebbiolo d’Alba DOC
San Colombano al Lambro DOC
Valtellina Rosso DOC
Sangiovese di Romagna DOC

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