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Entries in Pasta & Pizza (3)

Tuesday
Sep182012

Pasta Salad with Melon, Pancetta, Arugula and Ricotta Salata

How lovely it is to be home!  We just returned from a fantastic trip to Madison, Wisconsin and Bridgehampton, New York, but it was great to unpack, hug Forest, and sleep in our own bed.  The last six weeks were dominated by extremely long bike rides, slightly shorter runs, open water swimming, and a lot of nerves.  I feel like I've been a bit remiss where my friends, family, and husband are concerned - there has been a bit too much Ironman preparation and too little fun.  

I'm optimistic that the turn of the seasons and less time on my bike will mean a return to normalcy... and more cooking.  After we unpacked on Sunday, I went to the grocery store and whipped up a dish that K recommended from the August 2012 issue of Bon Appétit.  It still feels like summer here, so a light pasta salad seemed like the perfect "welcome home" meal.  And is it possible that this is the first thing I have made from Bon Appétit in three months?  Eek.


Pasta Salad with Melon, Pancetta, Arugula and Ricotta Salata
Adapted from Bon Appétit 
Yield = 4-6 servings 

A few notes about this recipe.  I made this with cantaloupe.  K reported that it was delicious with honeydew, too.  The original recipe called for mint, which we didn't have - I am sure it is a nice addition, but it isn't necessary.  We did have arugula, so I added a few handfuls, which I really liked - it offsets the ricotta salata and the pancetta well.

Ingredients

  • ounces thinly sliced pancetta (bacon would work equally as well)
  • 8 ounces orecchiette (ear-shaped pasta) (I couldn't find orecchiete, so I used lumaconi, which are snail shell-shaped and probably larger than ideal... but I love the shape)
  • Kosher salt 
  • tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • cups 1x1x1/4" pieces peeled melon
  • 3 tablespoons thinly sliced scallion
  • Pinch of crushed red pepper flakes
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • ounces ricotta salata (salted dry ricotta), shaved
  • 2 cups (approximately) arugula

Preparation

  • Heat oven to 350°. Arrange pancetta in a single layer on a large rimmed baking sheet. Bake until brown and crisp, 20–25 minutes.  Alternatively, place pancetta on folded layers of paper towels on a microwave-proof plate and microwave on high until brown and crisp.  Start with 3 minutes and add time accordingly being sure not to overcook.  Let pancetta stand until cool enough to handle, then break into bite-size pieces.
  • Meanwhile, cook pasta in a medium pot of boiling salted water, stirring occasionally, until al dente.  Drain pasta; run under cold water to cool.  Drain and set aside.
  • Whisk oil and vinegar in a large bowl.  Add half of pancetta, the scallions, and the red pepper flakes and stir to combine.  Add the cooked pasta, melon, and arugula and toss to coat.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.  Transfer to a serving dish and sprinkle with the remaining pancetta.  Garnish with shaved ricotta salata.  

Forest seems concerned that we might leave him again at any time.

Sunday
Mar112012

Jim Lahey's No-Knead Pizza Dough

I've never given much thought to pizza dough.  Where pizza is concerned, I tend to like it all.  Certainly I've had pizza that I've especially enjoyed - every slice I had in Rome, mashed potato pizza from BAR in New Haven, and the pies I ate at Beau Jo's with my parents after they dragged me up mountains growing up - but I've often felt that the place where you eat said pizza matters more than the pizza itself.

My opinion on this matter changed last week when I made Jim Lahey's No-Knead Pizza Dough.  I made the full recipe posted below, which produces enough dough for approximately six pizzas.  I wasn't actually sure what we were going to do with all of the dough since we didn't have plans to host people for dinner, but I needn't have been concerned -- we ate pizza three nights last week and we both took the leftovers for lunch.  The dough was so flavorful and chewy and light that it didn't matter what we put on top - a simple tomato sauce, crushed tomatoes, fresh mozzarella, goat cheese, a few herbs - really whatever I found in the fridge.  Don't overwhelm the flavor of the dough -- it really is that good.

Jim Lahey's No-Knead Pizza Dough

Yield = Six 10"-12" pizzas
Active Time = 60 minutes
Total Time = 20 hours 
Recipe from Jim Lahey in the March 2012 Bon Appétit 

Ingredients
7 1/2 cups all-purpose flour (1000 grams) plus more for shaping dough
4 teaspoons fine sea salt
1/2 teaspoon active dry yeast

Preparation of the Dough
1.  Whisk flour, salt, and yeast in a medium bowl. While stirring with a wooden spoon, gradually add 3 cups water; stir until well incorporated. Mix dough gently with your hands to bring it together and form into a rough ball (note that if you are lazy like me this can all be done in a stand mixer using a dough hook). Transfer to a large clean bowl.  Cover with plastic wrap and let dough rise at room temperature (about 72°) in a draft-free area until surface is covered with tiny bubbles and dough has more than doubled in size, about 18 hours (time will vary depending on the temperature in the room).

2.  Transfer dough to a floured work surface. Gently shape into a rough rectangle. Divide into 6 equal portions. Working with 1 portion at a time, gather 4 corners to center to create 4 folds. Turn seam side down and mold gently into a ball. Dust dough with flour; set aside on work surface or a floured baking sheet. Repeat with remaining portions.

3.  Let dough rest, covered with plastic wrap or a damp kitchen towel, until soft and pliable, about 1 hour. DO AHEAD: Can be made 3 days ahead. Wrap each dough ball separately in plastic wrap and chill. Unwrap and let rest at room temperature on a lightly floured work surface, covered with plastic wrap, for 2–3 hours before shaping.

To Make the Pizzas
1.  During the last hour that the dough is resting, prepare the oven: If using a pizza stone, arrange a rack in upper third of oven and place stone on rack; preheat oven to its hottest setting, 500°–550°, for 1 hour. If using a baking sheet, arrange a rack in middle of oven and preheat to its hottest setting, 500°–550°. (You do not need to preheat the baking sheet.)

2.  Working with 1 dough ball at a time, dust dough generously with flour and place on a floured work surface. Gently shape dough into a 10"–12" disk.

If Using Pizza Stone - When ready to bake, increase oven heat to broil. Sprinkle a pizza peel or rimless (or inverted rimmed) baking sheet lightly with flour. Place dough disk on prepared peel and top with desired toppings.  Using small, quick back-and-forth movements, slide pizza from peel onto hot pizza stone. Broil pizza, rotating halfway, until bottom of crust is crisp and top is blistered, 5–7 minutes.  Using peel, transfer to a work surface to slice.

If Using a Baking Sheet - Arrange dough disk on baking sheet; top with desired toppings. Bake pizza until bottom of crust is crisp and top is blistered, about 10 minutes.  Transfer to a work surface to slice. 

Wednesday
Apr272011

Bon Appétit goes to Italy

There are some months when Bon Appétit arrives and I peruse the magazine with a feeling of disappointment.  It is not that there aren't always new recipes to try that sound delicious or use an interesting ingredient with which I wouldn't otherwise cook, but there just aren't recipes that inspire me to get in the car, head to the grocery store for ingredients and get cooking!  However, the May 2011 issue was not one of those issues... the magazine has been redesigned and it is awesome!  The layout is much-improved and I, literally, want to make every recipe in the magazine.  The monthly recipe list that I sent to Kate last week was considerably longer than in past months and I couldn't wait to get cooking!

So, after my first trip to the grocery store in weeks, I started last night with something simple because I spent too much time perusing the aisles at Whole Foods (pretty standard when it comes to me and grocery stores).  The recipe for Pasta with Sun Gold Tomatoes by Mario Batali is in the "Pasta Perfect" section of the magazine and when I saw the first heirloom yellow tomatoes of the season at Whole Foods, I knew this was the perfect choice.  The recipe is super simple and took about 20 minutes from start to finish.  It isn't a dramatic dish but the flavors are subtle and fresh and oh, so good. I had to improvise a bit because I forgot parmesan cheese at the store (I used random cheese I had on hand and this cheese powder from the Savory Spice Shop that is useful for forgetful moments) and it still turned out really well.  Make it -- you won't be disappointed!

Pasta with Sun Gold Tomatoes
(modified from the May 2011 issue of Bon Appétit)
Serves 4 

Ingredients

  • 4 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • 16 oz. Sun Gold or cherry tomatoes
  • garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
  • Kosher salt
  • 12 oz. pasta (I used a fun shape called fusilli)
  • 1 1/2 cups finely grated Pecorino or Parmesan
  • 16 medium fresh basil leaves, torn into pieces

Preparation
Heat 3 Tbsp. oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add tomatoes, garlic, and red pepper flakes, season with salt, and cook, covered slightly and swirling pan often, until tomatoes blister and burst, 10-12 minutes. Press down on tomatoes to release their juices. Remove pan from heat and set aside.

Meanwhile, bring 3 quarts water to a boil in a 5-qt. pot. Season with salt; add pasta and cook, stirring occasionally, until about 2 minutes before tender. Drain pasta, reserving 1 1/2 cups pasta cooking water.

Transfer pasta to skillet with tomatoes; set over high heat. Add 1 cup pasta water. Cook, stirring and tossing often, until sauce thickens and begins to coat the pasta, about 1 minute. Stir in remaining oil, cheese, and half the basil and toss until sauce coats pasta and pasta is al dente. (Add more pasta water if sauce seems dry.) Add remaining basil, season with salt, and serve.