Category: Pasta + Noodles + Rice

Chicken and Tofu Pad Thai

Pad Thai is one of those dishes I like to make to hold me over another meal that takes more time to prepare. I thought about making this one while I was waiting for beef ribs to braise. I already had most of the ingredients in the pantry, being this an Asian kitchen and all; I just walked over to the nearest grocery store in Harlem to buy the red bell pepper, the tofu, and the bean sprouts.

The key here is not to overcook the noodles. Soaking them in cold water after cooking is important. The cold water shocks the noodles and stops them from cooking any further. They get heated up again when you assemble the entire dish together towards the end.

rice noodles
vegetable oil
1 egg, lightly beaten
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 red onion, sliced
ground chicken
1 red bell pepper, seeded, sliced
1 package extra firm tofu, diced
scallions, finely chopped
2 handfuls of bean sprouts
1/4 cup unsalted peanuts, toasted, crushed
cilantro, finely chopped
lime wedges

For the sauce:
1/4 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup rice wine vinegar
lime juice
a few jiggers of fish sauce
1 tbsp sugar
1-2 Thai chiles, chopped

1. Bring 4 cups of water to a boil in a medium saucepan. Remove from heat. Add rice noodles; let stand 8 to 10 minutes or until noodles are soft but firm. Rinse under cold water; drain well. Set aside.
2. Make the sauce: combine all sauce ingredients and stir until sugar is diluted. Adjust to taste; it should be salty enough with a sour kick and not at all sweet. Add chiles for heat. Set aside.
3. Heat a little oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add egg; scramble until set. Remove from skillet. Set aside.
4. Add more oil to skillet. Sauté garlic until brown and then the onions until translucent. Add chicken; stir-fry until cooked through. Add the bell pepper, the tofu, scallions, and bean sprouts. Stir-fry until bell pepper is soft, about 5 minutes. Pour in half of the sauce and incorporate.
5. Drain the rice noodles and add to the skillet and keep stir-frying. Add remaining sauce to balance everything out. Remove from heat. Stir in scrambled egg and sprinkle with the peanuts. Serve with cilantro sprigs and lime wedges.

Black Tagliatelle with Hot Sausage and Littleneck Clams

I wanted to take on making pasta again at home so I stopped by Buon Italia’s joint in Chelsea Market to buy cuttlefish ink to make black pasta. My heart broke when my dough refused to form so I ended up throwing everything including the 10 egg yolks required. It’s a very expensive hobby, pasta-making; I don’t know why I can’t seem to do it myself. I was fine while I was taking the class at Rustico Cooking; perhaps it’s time to retake the class just to get the feel of the dough again.

The good thing is that I bought black tagliatelle as well for backup. I didn’t want to spend more money buying Nduja sausages so I just picked up regular hot sausages. The clam shells were heavy but were a great addition to this dish. It was very pretty at the end and I highly recommend making this when you have a night to tuck it in with a nice glass of red wine.

olive oil
4 cloves garlic, crushed
1/2 sweet onion, roughly chopped
2 bay leaves
20 littleneck clams, rinsed and scrubbed
1/4 cup dry white wine
3 hot Italian sausages, removed from casing
1 tbsp tomato paste
black tagliatelle pasta
fresh lemon juice
2 tbsps butter
a handful of parsley, finely chopped
2 scallions, sliced thinly

1. Heat the oil in a large pot over medium heat. Sauté the garlic until light golden brown. Add the onions and sweat until soft and translucent, about 10 minutes. Add the bay leaves, clams and half of the wine. Cover the pot and steam for 5 to 7 minutes, removing the clams as they open. Strain the cooking liquid and set aside in a bowl. Remove and reserve the meat from the clams and roughly chop; discard shells.
2. In a skillet, cook the sausage pieces and render the fat. Crush the sausages into smaller pieces with the back of your spatula while cooking. Deglaze the pan with the remaining wine and reduce by half by simmering in low fire. Add tomato paste and reserved clam juice and bring to a simmer.
3. Meanwhile, cook the pasta in another pot of boiling water until al dente. Drain the pasta, reserving some of the cooking water. Add the pasta to the sausage. Add the reserved clams and butter and toss over medium-high heat until the pasta is well coated, about 2 minutes. Stir in the pasta water a little bit at a time so it has a nice consistency. To finish, toss with the lemon juice and parsley and garnish with the breadcrumbs and scallions.

Penne with Squash Blossoms

Summer came in late for us here in New York City. It’s already September and I’m only starting to see summer produce at the farmers’ markets. It was with some shock that I bought squash blossoms when I saw them at my Harlem’s produce stand one Tuesday morning while walking my dog Atticus.

olive oil
1 tbsp unsalted butter
1 red onion, finely chopped
3 stalks of celery, finely chopped
1 medium carrot, finely chopped
a handful of parsley, finely chopped
12 zucchini blossoms, halved; stems removed if hardy
6 saffron threads
2 cups chicken or vegetable broth
1 egg yolk
penne pasta
Pecorino Romano, shaved

1. Put a large pot of salted water over high heat; this will be your pasta pot.
2. In the meantime, heat a splash of olive oil and the butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Sauté the red onion, celery, carrot, and parsley, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are translucent. Add the zucchini blossoms, a pinch or two of salt, and the saffron, and stir gently to mix.
3. Add about 3/4 cup of broth, and stir to combine. Raise the heat to medium-high and add the rest of the broth a splash or two at a time, taking about 5 minutes to add it all. Stir frequently. Allow the sauce to simmer until most of the liquid has evaporated and only a thin film of thickened broth remains in the pan. Remove from the heat.
4. In a small bowl, whisk the egg yolk slightly with a fork. Meanwhile, cook the pasta until tender but al dente. When the pasta is almost ready, place the zucchini blossom sauce back over medium heat. Use a small measuring cup to scoop up about 3 tbsps of pasta water and, whisking constantly with a fork, gradually add the hot water to the egg yolk: together, they should make a loose, pale yellow liquid. Pour this mixture into the sauce in the skillet, stirring well. Scoop some cooked pasta into a serving bowl, and toss with the sauce. Top with shaved cheese.

Soba Noodles with Miso-Pickled Ginger Dressing

For the pickled ginger in this recipe, you can buy the pre-packaged ones from your Asian market–it’s the kind you eat with your sushi–or easily make your own if you have a few extra hours to marinate. I’ve included that recipe below just in case.

When assembling the dish, I tossed all the vegetables with the dressing first before I folded them in with the soba noodles because I didn’t want the noodles to break and get soggy. Serve this cold and you’ll have a nice salad to eat for your Meatless Whatever-Day of the week.

For the pickled ginger:

1 large knob of ginger, peeled, thinly sliced
1 cup rice vinegar
1/4 cup of white sugar
1 tsp salt

1. In a small pot, bring water to a boil. Then add the ginger and cook, stirring once or twice, to soften it, about 30 seconds. Drain the ginger in a strainer, separating the pieces with chopsticks so they drain well. Transfer the ginger to a bowl and let stand.
2. In another separate pot over medium heat, combine the vinegar, sugar, and salt. Stir until the sugar and salt dissolve, then increase the heat to medium high and bring to a boil. Remove from the heat. Pour in the vinegar mixture to completely cover the ginger in the bowl. Let stand for a couple of hours, or overnight.

For the soba:

2 tbsps white miso paste
2 bundles of soba noodles
1 tbsp sesame oil
1 tbsp rice vinegar
pickled ginger
1 medium carrot, cut into matchsticks
1 small head radicchio, thinly sliced
2 scallions, chopped
1 sheet toasted nori, torn
2 tbsps toasted sesame seeds

1. Cook soba noodles according to package directions. Rinse under cold water, drain, and place in large colander.
2. Blend miso, sesame oil, rice vinegar, pickled ginger, and about 3 tbsps of water in a blender until smooth.
3. Pour in the miso-pickled ginger dressing in a large mixing bowl. Stir in carrots, radicchio, green onions, nori, and the sesame seeds until well-combined. Fold in the soba noodles and toss gently.

Pasta with Peppers and Balsamic Vinegar

It’s officially autumn in New York City! Even though bell peppers seem to be a summer vegetable, I used them in this pasta dish with balsamic vinegar to bring out a different flavor. I chose red, yellow, and orange and skipped the more raw green kind. With the vinegar, their colors seem more muted and fall-like rather than bright and summery.

I used penne here because it’s what I have handy, but feel free to use rigatoni so that the ridges hold the vinegar in for a more dramatic presentation. Parmesan cheese is the way to go, but again, I used what I had and that was a beautiful truffled cheese. I used it minimally because I didn’t want the truffle smell to overwhelm the fragrant peppers and vinegar.

3 bell peppers, seeded and sliced
salt, pepper
1 red onion, thinly sliced
2 cloves garlic, minced
a handful of parsley, finely chopped
2 tbsps balsamic vinegar
a handful of grated truffled cheese
about 2 cups of penne

1. Put all the peppers in a large frying pan over medium heat with a little olive oil and a pinch of salt and pepper. Cover and cook slowly for 15 minutes until softened.
2. In the meantime, cook the penne al dente and drain. Set aside until ready to assemble the dish.
3. Add the onion to the peppers and cook for another 10 minutes. Add the garlic and parsley and cook while tossing for about 3 minutes. Add the balsamic vinegar and let it sizzle away.
4. Add the cooked pasta and toss with the cheese and more parsley. Drizzle with a little bit more olive oil before serving.