Archive for the ‘recipe’ Category

Getting to pho …

18 December 2011

Well, long hiatus. We won’t go into the details.

Recently, a friend expressed interest in making a good pho broth at home. We’ve spent some time trying different versions (Modernist Cuisine’s version is pretty darn good) and tinkering with them, and are starting to narrow it down. In the meantime, here’s one we’re getting close to being happy with.

Onions and Ginger

Onions and ginger charred with a propane torch. A gas grill would have done a better job.

  • 1t black peppercorns
  • 1 cinnamon stick (we liked the Mexican kind)
  • 3 cloves star anise
  • 1/2t allspice (ground)
  • olive oil
  • 1.5 – 2 pounds oxtail (jointed)
  • 1.5 – 2 pounds beef short ribs (separated between the bones)
  • 2 medium/large white onions (a little over a pound)
  • 1/4 pound ginger
  • 2 – 3 quarts water
  • lime, sugar, salt, fish sauce to taste

Briefly toast the spices in a pan and reserve. Rinse any dirt off of the onions and cut them in half, leaving the skin on. Rinse and then cut the (unpeeled) ginger in half. Using a gas torch, a very hot dry pan, an outdoor grill, or the burner on your range,  char the onion and ginger.

Sear the oxtails and short ribs in a pressure cooker or stock pot, in batches if needed. Return all the meat to the pot, and add the charred onion and ginger, the toasted spices (in a sachet if you wish), and the water. Bring to a simmer, skimming off any scum or foam that comes to the surface.

  • If you’re using a pressure cooker, seal the cover, and bring the pressure to 1 bar (maximum). Adjust the heat and cook for 30 minutes. Don’t vent the cooker. When the 30 minutes is up, remove the cooker from the heat and allow the pressure to drop naturally (i.e. no cold water or venting).
  • If you are using a traditional stock pot, cover the broth and adjust the heat so that it is barely simmering. Cook for at least 90 minutes, periodically skimming any foam from the surface.

Remove the cover, and carefully strain the broth into another container. Adjust the seasoning with the lime, sugar, salt, and fish sauce. Cool to room temperature, then transfer individual portions to ziplock-style bags and either refrigerate or freeze.

Optionally, you can clarify the stock using a ground beef, egg, and mirepoix raft. This makes it looks absolutely stunning and intensifies the beef flavor of the broth.

Let us know any tweaks you make and how it turns out.

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Sunday Snack: Filipino-Style Grilled Pork Skewers

26 June 2011
Pork skewers on the grill!

Pork skewers on the grill!

This week we’re introducing one of our absolute favorite and underused ingredients: vinegar. We do a lot of fusion cooking, for lack of a better term, and one of our influences is most definitely the food of the Philippines — itself a fusion of sorts, a wild conglomeration of indigenous, Chinese, Spanish, and American cuisines. One of the hallmarks of Filipino food is the frequent and generous application of sourness in its various forms … in one of our favorite ways, by using vinegar as both a marinade and in sauces. Our platform to deliver the flavor is a great summer afternoon snack: grilled skewers of marinated cubes of pork.

For what it’s worth, we’re pairing these with a crisp sauvignon blanc, in our case, a 2010 Château Lestrille Entre-Deux-Mers. They go great with beer (San Miguel, anyone?) as well.

For more traditional Filipino dishes, we would use cider vinegar or plain old white vinegar, but to the uninitiated, the intensity may be too much, too soon, so we settle for balsamic vinegar and a seasoned rice vinegar. Both the balsamic and the rice vinegar give the pork a nice, sweet, and tangy flavor profile. You can pick up both of these in the ethnic aisle at any reasonable grocery store. If all you can find is plain rice vinegar (i.e. no sugar or salt listed in the ingredients), you can use it, but add a few pinches of sugar and salt to the marinade. Please don’t use expensive balsamic, it would be a waste — use a plain old mass market brand and you’ll be fine.

  • 2 pork chops, 4 – 6 ounces each, or pork tenderloin, or shoulder, or butt … whatever you have on hand. Size isn’t important as long as you adjust the amount of marinade accordingly.
  • some bamboo skewers, soaked in water so they don’t burn on the grill (metal skewers are fine, of course)

    Marinade (cw from top): soy sauce, rice vinegar, garlic, shallot, bay leaves, lemon, and balsamic.

    Marinade (cw from top): soy sauce, rice vinegar, garlic, shallot, bay leaves, lemon, and balsamic.

For the marinade, you will need:

  • 1/4 cup rice vinegar
  • 1/8 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 1/8 cup soy sauce
  • the juice of one medium lemon
  • one shallot (substitute some minced yellow onion if you wish)
  • two cloves garlic (or more if you like), peeled and degermed
  • 3 bay leaves
  • one teaspoon (or to taste) Sambal Oleck or another hot, spicy sauce (optional)

It takes an hour or so to properly marinate the pork, longer if you want a more pungent, intense flavor. I wouldn’t go less than 30 minutes unless you plan on reducing the marinade on the stove to use as a dipping sauce. Let’s get cooking:

  1. Combine both vinegars, the soy sauce, the bay leaves, and the hot sauce (if using) in a one gallon ziplock bag.
  2. If you have a Rocket Blender or some other such thing, pulverize the shallot and garlic with the lemon juice and add to the marinade. If you don’t have something like that, just mince the shallot and garlic and add it with the lemon juice to the ziplock bag.
  3. Cut the pork into 3/4 inch cubes or, if you’re using the “S” curve skewer method, 3/4 inch wide strips. Add them to the marinade, mix well, seal the bag, and stick back in the fridge for an hour (or more if you’ve drank the kool-aid and already love vinegar).

    S-type and traditional ways to skewer the pork.

    S-type and traditional ways to skewer the pork.

  4. Decide whether you want to make rice. Rice is awesome with this dish, and can turn this snack into a lunch or light dinner. Have a glass of wine, or crack open a beer. You deserve it, you have arranged things so that you will be eating well very soon.
  5. Get your grill going when it’s time. I’m assuming you know how to do this. For charcoal, pile the coals to one side so you can do both direct and indirect heat. Your strategy will be to sear and mark the pork and then move them to the indirect side to finish. For gas grills, don’t underestimate the power of pre-heating … it’s crucial for good results. You can sear these with a propane torch, too, but your neighbors will look at you funny. Since apparently you read Humboldt Kitchen, you are probably used to this, and have thick enough skin that you couldn’t give a f … care less. If you want rice, make it now.
  6. Remove the pork from the marinade, and pat dry with paper towels. Skewer your pork.
  7. If you want to make a great but intense dipping sauce, put the marinade in a shallow pan over medium-high heat on the stove and reduce it to a consistency you like. It’s great to dip the cubes in, or to drizzle over rice.
  8. Grill your pork, taking care to rotate it so you can get some nice grill marks on each side. It won’t take more than 5 or 6 minutes, if you remember that the FDA has lowered the “safe” cooking temperature of pork to 145 degrees F. That’s right, folks, you can leave it pink and not worry about poisoning your loved ones.

    Filipino-style Grilled Pork Skewers

    Filipino-style Grilled Pork Skewers

  9. Pile the pork on a plate and let it rest a bit, then serve with the optional rice and reduced marinade. Thank me later, and welcome to the world of vinegar. You will be craving Adobong Manok in no time, and will be all the better for it.
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Quick and Easy Sunday Afternoon Snack (with Wine): Cheese Toasties

12 June 2011

This is the first in our brand spanking new Quick and Easy Sunday Afternoon Snack series. Every recipe we post with the Quick and Easy tag must possess three primary characteristics: (1) it has to be quick to make with minimal prep work; (2) it has to be easy, as in “you could do this tipsy,” to throw together; and (3) it has to provide a decent cover story for having a couple glasses of wine on a Sunday afternoon. See, if you are eating something and it absolutely begs for wine, then you are obligated to pour yourself a glass, and you definitely aren’t a lush. Just don’t make any of these for breakfast and you’ll be fine.

As an added bonus, the snacks in this series will be a good way to introduce kids, or slightly less than adventurous adults, to progressively more sophisticated tastes, without scaring the bejeezus out them in the process. The dishes themselves should look familiar and classic enough to transport them to a place where they’re comfortable enough to try something new and unexpected. This week’s edition introduces Dijon mustard, tarragon, and some non-crappy cheese to the classic open-faced toasted cheese sandwich. For four mini-sandwiches (call them Cheese Toasties if you want), you will need:

Cheese Toasties ... Dijon, tarragon, scamorza, and black pepper on Challah rolls

Cheese Toasties ... Dijon, tarragon, scamorza, and black pepper on Challah rolls

  • 2 English muffins, Challah rolls, Hawaiian or Honey Wheat rolls, or 2 slices of regular sandwich bread (sliced kitty korner)
  • butter
  • Dijon mustard
  • the leaves from a sprig of tarragon, finely minced
  • decent cheese that melts easily, enough to cover the bread, such as scamorza, mozzarella, or even Gruyère, grated or thinly sliced
  • a few pinches freshly ground pepper
  1. Slice the rolls in half, like a hamburger bun, and butter the top side. Smear some Dijon over the butter, top with the cheese, and sprinkle some tarragon over the cheese.
  2. Place in a toaster oven and toast, or under a broiler, until the cheese is melted and gooey. Top each one with a sprinkle of freshly ground pepper. You likely won’t need salt if you use scamorza or mozzarella, but season gently with salt if they need some.

Told  you it was easy. For wine, I’d go with something with enough acid to cut the fat in the cheese and butter and hold up to the Dijon, which, depending on the type you use, can be quite assertive. A New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc would do nicely, as would a Chablis if you prefer Chardonnay. For reds, I would stick with the lighter side, such as an Oregon Pinot Noir. Of course, I need not mention how well good cheese goes with beer. My favorite right now is Goose Island’s Matilda, and it happens to pair with this snack wonderfully.

 

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Basic Bread Pudding

16 May 2011

A few weeks ago, we had the pleasure of making a chocolate-banana bread based on a Gordon Ramsey recipe. It was delicious, but since we don’t really have all that much of a sweet tooth, and the chocolate pushed it into that realm, we had leftovers. Rather than let them go to waste, we turned the bread into a classic bread pudding, and loved the results. Sorry, it didn’t last long enough to take a picture. 😉

Other than something to cook it in (a loaf pan, silicone mold, an old hub cap, a muffin tray, etc.), you’ll need:

  • 2 cups milk
  • 2 (chicken) eggs … we use a lot of duck eggs here, but this calls for chicken
  • 1/2 cup decent honey … buy this at a farmer’s market for half the price and 3 times the flavor of one you would pick up at a grocery store
  • 4 “slices” banana bread, brioche, or just plain good old bread bread … 1/2″ to 3/4″ thick.
  • butter (unsalted, naturally)

The method couldn’t be easier:

  1. Preheat your oven to 325 degrees.
  2. Gently warm the milk in a pan. When it’s tepid, take it off heat and add the honey. Stir to dissolve the honey in the milk.
  3. Pour the milk-honey mixture (Biblical references aside) into a bowl and beat in the eggs.
  4. Generously (is there any other way) butter each slice of bread on one side and then cut the slices into cubes.
  5. Butter your baking dish, and toss in the cubes … don’t stack them, just toss them in there.
  6. Pour the egg-milk-honey mixture over the cubes to cover. You may have too much of this, in which case, let the thing settle and the bread soak up some of the liquid, and then top off with more of the mixture.
  7. When the oven is good and hot, bake the soon-to-be-pudding for an hour or so. You’ll know it’s done when the mixture sets and the top browns. If it stays gooey, remember to use less egg-milk-honey next time. 😉 Trust us, it will still taste awesome even if you have to eat it with a spoon, so there will be a next time.
  8. Remove for the oven and sample some. Sample some more. Now, show some discipline and cool it for an hour or so at room temperature, and then in the fridge. It’s better the next day.

The quality of your final product depends on the texture, density, and quality of the bread and the ratio of bread to liquid. Try it a few times and you’ll develop your own favorite technique. You won’t need to top this with anything, but whipped cream, caramel, and berries are all good options if you’re so inclined.

We’ll have a fun announcement later this week to make Humboldt Kitchen better, so stay tuned.

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Rotini with Chorizo, Peas, and Olives in a Rosemary Tomato Cream Sauce

12 April 2011

Pasta swimming in a tomato cream sauce should be a go-to weeknight dish for everyone; it’s comforting, simple, and if you have some pantry basics, quick to throw together at the last minute. This very adds Spanish or Portuguese chorizo for flavor, complementing it with peas and black olives. The addition of rosemary to the sauce lends some complexity and brings the dish back to Italy.

This will give you enough for two (with plenty of leftovers for lunch!!!), or four if you serve it with some greens and a light dessert or glass of wine. Tradition would suggest a high-acid red wine to counter the richness of the cream sauce, but I liked this with a pleasant California chardonnay, in my case the 2009 Au Bon Climat Santa Barbera Chardonnay, a great value for $15.

Rotini with Chorizo, Peas, and Olives in a Rosemary Tomato Cream Sauce

Rotini with Chorizo, Peas, and Olives in a Rosemary Tomato Cream Sauce

  • 12 ounces (roughly a package) of whole wheat rotini, such as Bella Terra Organic
  • 2 shallots, sliced into rings ~1/8″ thick
  • 4 oz Spanish or Portuguese chorizo; the cured kind, not the fresh Mexican stuff, sliced into 1/4″ discs
  • ~18 pitted and roughly chopped black olives (I used Kalamata for their brininess but if you adjust your seasoning at the end … and I know that you will … use whatever kind you like.)
  • one sprig rosemary
  • 1 cup peas, fresh, but frozen if not in season
  • 1 cup basic red tomato sauce, like the kind you would already have in the fridge if you looked at the second recipe in this Italian Wonton post.
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 3 T unsalted butter
  • kosher or sea salt, fresh ground pepper, and olive oil

On to the mechanics …

  1. Put a large pot of salted water on to boil. Drizzle some olive oil into it, it doesn’t affect the taste, but it’ll help keep it from over boiling and making a mess.
  2. Heat a couple tablespoons of olive oil in a large saute pan over medium heat. When hot, add the shallots and stir. Reduce the heat — you just want to sweat them a bit.
  3. When they’re limp, add the chorizo and cook, stirring occasionally, until that beautiful red oil begins to leech out and the chorizo is heated through.
  4. Add the olives, rosemary, and peas. Continue to cook, stirring off and on, until the peas are starting to cook.
  5. Remove the rosemary and add the red sauce and the cream. Stir everything together, and drop your pasta in what should be your boiling water. Continue stirring the sauce every so often.
  6. After the pasta is cooked al dente, drain it and transfer to a bowl.
  7. When the sauce reduces to a texture that you like, add the butter and stir to integrate it into the sauce. Check your salt and pepper, adjusting as necessary, and remove from heat.
  8. Dress the pasta by adding just enough to coat the rotini. This is quite rich, so will take less than you think. Make sure you include the chorizo, peas, and olives. The rest of the sauce will keep for a few days. It’s good over scrambled eggs, though perhaps a bit decadent.
  9. Plate and serve. Top with some fresh Parm if you’re in the mood.
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Green Board: Corn, Black Beans, and Tomatoes

23 March 2011

Sound simple? It is … but so good, especially with good tomatoes and sweet corn. The sherry vinegar adds some complexity, too.

Corn, Black Beans, and Tomatoes

Corn, Black Beans, and Tomatoes

  • the kernels from 2 ears of sweet corn (use frozen if you are desparate)
  • 1 can (~14 oz) black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 3 medium sized roma or heirloom tomatoes, roughly chopped, peeled if you prefer
  • sherry vinegar to taste (at least 3 T)
  • ~3 T butter
  • sea or kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • fresh thyme for garnish
  1. Fill the can the beans came in half full with water. Add this, plus the black beans and sherry vinegar, to a small stock pot or pan. Heat gently, stirring occasionally, until the water and vinegar is nearly absorbed and the beans are hot.
  2. In the meantime, melt the butter in a pan over medium heat. When the foam subsides, add the corn and cook, stirring occasionally. Season with pepper.
  3. When the corn begins to caramelize, take the pan off the heat until the beans are ready. Add the beans to the corn and return to the heat. Add the tomatoes.
  4. Continue to cook, stirring as needed, until the tomatoes are heated through. Taste and season with salt or additional pepper, if needed.
  5. Plate, garnish with the thyme, and serve.

We promised lobster this week, and we will still deliver. Stay tuned.

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Monday Green Board: Tomato Mushroom Soup

21 February 2011

First, an announcement … Sunday Green Board is hereby known as Monday Green Board. First reason is that Sundays are getting too busy for me right now to both prepare a special vegetarian dish and then get it into a post that evening. The next reason is to align with the current Meatless Mondays movement. I may not agree with them on some things, but I’m all for health, and people eating more vegetables is a good thing.

This week we have another damned soup, and to be honest I feel slightly upset about it, but it’s what I came up with yesterday so that’s what we’re working with. If you are sensing a theme right now, and you think that theme may have something to do with winter comfort food with Italian-American influences, then you would be right. Bring on Spring already, we’ve suffered enough.

Exhibit A: this week’s Tomato Mushroom Soup. You will need:

Tomato Mushroom Soup

Tomato Mushroom Soup

  • sea or kosher salt, freshly cracked pepper, and good extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons butter
  • at least two dozen crimini mushrooms, the larger ones sliced thick (~1/2 inch)
  • six sprigs fresh thyme, substituting dried if you need to
  • medium sized zucchini, peel and diced, seeded if necessary
  • 1/2 yellow onion, roughly diced
  • 1 T fresh oregano, substituting dried if you need to (reduce the amount accordingly)
  • 1/3 cup good quality port
  • 28 ounce can San Marzano whole peeled tomatoes … the Italian ones, not the American ones named San Marzano, unless that’s all you have … crushed by hand, with the basil leaf removed, and WITH the juice
  • flat leaf parsley and freshly grated pecorino romano or parmesan

The preparation this week takes place in two stages: first we cook the mushrooms so they retain their shape and texture, and then we cook the stuff that makes the soup, adding the mushrooms back at the end right before garnishing. Another thing to note is that this soup doesn’t require stock, which is a nice time saver when you’ve used your reserves and won’t make more until the weekend.

  1. Heat the butter and a tablespoon of oil in a sauté pan over medium heat. When hot, add the thyme sprigs and mushrooms, toss, and cook for around 4 minutes, until the mushrooms have released some liquid and have shrunken a bit. You want them to remain meaty.
  2. Remove the mushrooms and stash away in a bowl. Add the onions and zucchini and continue to cook, stirring occasionally. If you need to add more oil, do so.
  3. After around four minutes, remove the thyme stalks. Many of the thyme leaves will have come off — this is what you want, just remove the woody bits. Add the oregano and continue to cook.
  4. About 8 to 10 minutes later, when the onion and zucchini start to brown, deglaze the pan with the port, transfer the entire thing to a stock pot, and return to the heat.
  5. Add the tomatoes (and juice) and one can (the same San Marzano can) of water. Bring to a boil and then reduce the heat to a simmer for 20 minutes.
  6. Using a stick blender, food processor, or regular blender, working in batches of you need to, turn the contents of the pot into soup. The texture can be a bit rustic, you just don’t want any chunks of zucchini or tomato left over.
  7. Turn off the burner, and season the soup with salt and pepper to taste. A splash of hot sauce wouldn’t hurt here, just don’t go overboard, this is about earth, not heat.
  8. Return the mushrooms to the soup. The residual heat will bring them back to temperature.
  9. Dish the soup into bowls and garnish with the parsley and cheese. Drizzle olive oil over the top and serve with some good crusty bread. If you feel luxurious, use truffle oil.

You should have enough for four people, and this keeps quite well in the fridge. Enjoy, and share your hints and tips no Twitter, Facebook, or here on the web site.

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Mojo Rojo

15 February 2011

OK, I owe you a Sunday Green Board. This will have to do for now. Trust me, it’s worth it.

Today’s treat was inspired by two things: a random memory of an old friend now living in Lanzarote (Hiya Joe!!!) and the opportunity for cheap, cheap airfare to Barcelona. It’s a wonderfully piquant sauce / condiment called either mojo picon or mojo rojo — essentially a vinaigrette flavored with garlic and chile peppers, similar in nature to a romesco sauce.

Whether you call it picon or rojo depends upon on the heat of the peppers you use … more heat means picon, less means rojo. I like to use dried pasilla chiles; they’re spicy, but not overwhelming, and their pleasant smokiness underscores the paprika, so mine’s a mojo rojo. If I used something with more heat, I’d call it mojo picon. It doesn’t really matter; there are dozens and dozens of extremely similar sauces out there, and in the end, what you call it is an order of magnitude less important than how it tastes.

We use the mojo rojo on boiled potatoes here (papas arrugadas to be precise), but it’s awesome on random veggies and meats, and absolutely stunning on scrambled eggs. Use it anywhere that needs a punch of spice without the overwhelming heat of a hot sauce. For something slightly more sophisticated, substitute it for Frank’s RedHot when you make Buffalo wings.

Mojo Rojo

Mojo Rojo on papas arrugadas with seared flank steak ... what a crappy picture, eh?

  • 6 cloves garlic, peeled (and degermed if needed)
  • 3 pasilla chiles, rehydrated, stems removed, or any other dried chile peppers you may like
  • 1 teaspoon good paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon coriander seed
  • 1 teaspoon kosher or sea salt
  • 1/4 cup sherry vinegar, the best you can get
  • 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil, the best you can get, again
  1. Boil some water in a kettle or pot, remove from heat, and add the chile peppers. Cover with a pot or bowl to keep them submerged, and steep for 45 minutes or more to rehydrate them. After they’ve steeped, cut out the stems and scrape out most of the seeds.
  2. Combine everything but the olive oil into a food processor or blender and pulverize into a paste. If you’re using a food processor, drizzle in the oil while pulsing to form an emulsion, as you would with a mayonnaise or vinaigrette. If using a blender, add the oil and emulsify.
  3. Taste, adjust the salt content, and savor.

Refrigerate the unused portion, but bring to room temperature before serving.

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Light Lunch: Leftovers Salad

07 February 2011

The concept is simple: use what you already have before it’s too late.  The benefits are that you feel thrifty, creative, and healthy.

Pasta and Green Leaf Lettuce Salad with Red Peppers, Onions, and Chicken

Leftovers Salad: Pasta and Green Leaf Lettuce Salad with Red Peppers, Onions, and Chicken

We had leftover roast chicken, green leaf lettuce, a red bell pepper, a red onion, a lemon, and some cooked farfalle. We covered the bottom of a salad bowl with the pasta and dressed it with some extra virgin olive oil and white wine vinegar. We washed the lettuce and tore it into reasonably-sized pieces and heaped it over the pasta. We washed, cored, and seeded the red pepper, sliced both it and the onion into thin rings, and placed it on top of the lettuce. Next, we removed the breast from the (cold) chicken, sliced / tore it into 1/4″ strips, and placed it on top. Finally, we hit it with some kosher salt and white pepper, and squeezed a nice portion of lemon juice over the whole thing. Toss and enjoy, ten minutes start to finish.

We all hate waste — what clever techniques do you use for dealing with leftovers?

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Sunday Green Board: Pasta with Veggie Marinara

06 February 2011

Yeah, I know, it’s a cop out. It’s pasta in marinara sauce with some veggies thrown in … but that doesn’t mean it isn’t awesome, and when the clouds are hanging heavy and the streets are covered with an inch of salt and three inches of slush, it can really hit the spot and help you forget about all that.

Basic Pasta w/ veggie loaded marinara

Farfalle in Marinara with Seitan, Crimini Mushrooms, Onions, and Basil

Forgive the picture, it doesn’t do it justice.

The exact amounts you need will depend on how much you want to make, but you’ll have to collect the following:

  • a basic marinara sauce, like we talked about in part one of the Italian Wonton post; we used about two cups
  • some chopped onion; we used half of a medium-sized yellow onion
  • around 4 ounces of ground beef-style seitan; we used Upton’s Naturals, but substitute anything you want, even real meat if you aren’t committed to the idea of the Sunday Green Board, or just like it better that way
  • some crimini or other tasty mushrooms, cleaned and thickly sliced, equal in volume to the amount of onion you are using; we used 8 baby bellas
  • some olives, about 1/2 the amount of the mushrooms; we used 8 pitted kalamata olives
  • fresh basil and freshly grated Pecorino Romano cheese to taste; we used a dozen basil leaves and a good 12 tablespoons of cheese
  • your favorite dried pasta, or at least something you have in the cupboard already; we used around a pound or so of farfalle from Trader Joe’s. It would have been better using fresh pasta, but we were lazy today … it is Sunday, after all.
  • a bigger pot than you think you need, 2/3 full of boiling, salted water
  • sea or kosher salt, freshly ground black or white pepper, and decent olive oil

On to the business …

  1. Get that water going in the big pot … the more water, the better. Salt it so it tastes salty like the ocean, but not briny like something you would see in a grade school chemistry experiment.
  2. Heat some olive oil in a sauce pan over a medium flame. When the oil is hot, add the onions, reduce the heat a bit, and sweat them for a couple minutes. Add the seitan, mushrooms, and olives. Cook, stirring occasionally, so that everything heats evenly.
  3. When the onions are soft, add the marinara, stir, and cover. Continue heating, stirring every so often. Taste and then adjust the seasoning if you need to, but keep in mind that with the olives, you likely won’t need any more salt.
  4. After around 20 minutes, drop the pasta into the boiling water and hit it with a splash of olive oil to help reduce the odds of an over boil.
  5. When the pasta is cooked al dente (read the label but usually between 8 and 12 minutes), remove the pot from the heat and drain, allowing the pasta to dry for a few minutes in the colander or strainer before returning it to the empty and now dry pot. Hit it with a tablespoon or so of olive oil and stir if it’s sticking together.
  6. We’re serving 1970’s Italian-American style, so for each serving, plate a cup or so of pasta (more or less depending on whether it’s a starter or a main course) onto a warm plate, spoon over some of the veggie marinara, and top with torn or chopped basil and some grated cheese. Pour a chianti or some other rustic, tomato-loving red wine to keep it company.

Note: If you have a red checkered tablecloth, now is the time to break it out.

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