weeknight gourmet

Posts Tagged ‘Mario Batali’

Molto Mario Deliciousness: Farfalle Abruzzese with Veal, Porcini, and Spinach

I hope everyone had a very happy holiday!  We had a great one at Tim’s brother’s house.  Charlotte loved being with her cousins Kaylin and Sidney.  And, we all ate very well!  They share my love of the Barefoot Contessa and she featured heavily in our holiday meals.

For Christmas, Doug and Julina gave me Molto Batali: Simple Family Meals by Mario Batali.  I have loved Mario Batali since my first visit to Po about ten years ago.  My love of his cooking has only grown as I have visited Babbo, Lupa, Del Posto, B&B Ristorante (in Las Vegas), and Casa Mono.

Despite dining at many of his restaurants, I did not own a Mario Batali cookbook until now.  The book is organized by month which I love since I try to cook seasonally.  Each month features three primi (pastas), one secondi (a meat main course), and four contorni (veggie sides).

I turned to the December chapter for my first recipe from the book.  The photograph of the Farfalle Abruzzese with Veal, Porcini, and Spinach called to me!  The recipe was out of this world and tasted as if the sauce had been simmering for hours!  I think the porcinis and the liquid from re-hydrating them added some very rich, earthy flavor to the dish.  I actually was a little light on the porcinis and spinach.  I only bought 2 ounces of the mushrooms and 5 ounces of baby spinach.  I am sure the dish would be even more flavorful with the full quantity of each.

Be sure to top the pasta with freshly grated pecorino.  It’s a great complement to the dish!

It can serve 6 as a main and is perfect for entertaining.  I will certainly be making this dish again.

Farfalle Abruzzese with Veal, Porcini, and Spinach
from Molto Batali: Simple Family Meals by Mario Batali

  • 3 ounces dried porcini mushrooms, soaked in 2 cups hot water for 10 minutes
  • ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 5 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • 1½ pounds ground veal shoulder
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • ¼ cup double-concentrated tomato paste
  • 1 cup dry white wine
  • 1 cup basic tomato sauce
  • 1½ pounds farfalle pasta
  • 8 ounces baby spinach, trimmed
  • ½ cup freshly grated Pecorino Romano

Drain the porcini, reserving the soaking liquid, and coarsely chop the porcini. Strain the soaking liquid through a fine mesh sieve, and set it aside.

In a large skillet, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the garlic and cook until it is lightly toasted. Add the veal and the chopped porcini, and cook, stirring, over medium-high heat until the meat is well browned, about 10 minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste, and add the tomato paste. Cook over high heat, stirring constantly, until the paste turns a rust color, 5 minutes. Then add the wine and 1 cup of the strained porcini soaking liquid, and cook for 5 minutes, until the wine has almost completely evaporated. Add the tomato sauce and reduce the heat to a very low simmer.

Bring 8 quarts of water to a boil in a large spaghetti pot, and add 2 tablespoons salt.

Drop the farfalle into the water and cook for 1 minute less than the package instructions indicate. Just before the pasta is done, carefully ladle ¼ cup of the cooking water into the veal mixture. Stir the baby spinach into the veal mixture.

Drain the pasta in a colander, and add it to the veal mixture. Toss over medium heat for about 30 seconds, until the pasta is nicely coated. Pour into a warmed serving bowl and serve immediately, with the grated pecorino on the side.

The Weeknight Gourmet's 100th Post!

I started this cooking blog one night in late January and really wasn’t sure how it would be received or if I’d enjoy writing it.

I have been pleasantly surprised by the positive reception from my readers and how much I enjoy communicating my culinary adventures.  I love when one of my posts inspires someone to cook a homemade meal.  I love noticing certain trends in what I cook and what ingredients I use.  I always knew I used a lot of garlic but never realized how many of my recipes rely on cumin!  I love checking my blog stats to see which recipes draw the most interest.  Based on my page views, people love curry and turkey burgers.

Most of all, I hope that, in some small way, the recipes I post can help create for others the special moments and conversations I experienced around the dinner table as a child with my mom, dad, and brother and as an adult with Tim, our friends, and extended family.

Here are my top 10 favorite posts (in no particular order). Would love to hear from you — please tell me your favorite recipes that you’ve cooked from the blog!

1) Summer Kickoff BBQ…RIBS

2) The Super Bowl Cake

3) Birthday Dinner for Angus

4) Black Bean Burgers with Guacamole Salad

5) A Must Make Dish: Mahi Mahi in Tomato Olive Sauce

6) My Gastronomical Discoveries in Northern CA

7) First BBQ of the Year: Grilled Herbed Baby Lamb Chops with Asparagus Salad

8) Dinner for Kaylin’s Parents: Turkey & Artichoke Stuffed Shells with Arrabbiata Sauce

9) Tribute to Domino

10) Spice Rubbed Chicken Tacos with Cilantro Slaw and Chipotle Cream

First BBQ of the Year: Grilled Herbed Baby Lamb Chops with Asparagus Salad

Taste: ****
Difficult: Easy
Cleanup: Quick

Tim and I are in the Berkshires for the first time since March 1st!  We typically don’t go this long without coming up to our house but there’s been a lot going on with AdBuyer.com and we just haven’t had the long Friday night drive in us.  Plus, mud season isn’t the most beautiful of times in Becket, MA.

But, this weekend, we’ve seen some early signs of spring — daffodils and tulips are breaking through the ground and soon our lawn will be full of Siberian squill.  For the first time since early December, there’s no sign of snow and our grill is no longer encased in ice on the deck, so this seemed like the perfect weekend to have our first barbecue!

When I think of early spring barbecue, I think of lamb so I decided to look for a good lamb recipe for the grill.  I found this Mario Batali baby lamb chop recipe, inspired by the Ribera del Duero wine region in Spain.  I had already spotted the perfect side in Food & Wine, a delicious roasted asparagus salad.

The lamb is coated in olive oil, a touch of red wine vinegar, kosher salt, pepper, sugar, chopped fresh rosemary, and dried lavender buds.  I had never used (or seen) dried lavender in a store before, but Guido’s, my local gourmet grocery store in Pittsfield, had them in their bulk spice section.  The chops with the herb mixture spread on them smelled like a whiff of Provence on an otherwise dreary day in Western Massachusetts!

The asparagus salad was super simple to prepare.  I misread the recipe and used triple the amount of zest which actually added a nice flavor!  Definitely use good Parmigiano-Reggiano for this recipe.  You can make beautiful cheese curls using your vegetable peeler!  I bought a bag of spring mix so the salad was super quick to assemble.

The asparagus only took 8 minutes to roast at 450 and the chops took the same amount of time for medium.  Overall, this delicious, and elegant-looking meal, took less than 20 minutes from start to finish!

Food & Wine suggested that a nice Rioja would complement the lamb but we didn’t have any on hand.  Instead, we opened a bottle of Barolo that we’ve been aging.  The 2001 Stefano Farina Barolo was a wonderful accompaniment to our spring celebration!


Grilled Herbed Baby Lamb Chops
Food & Wine

  • Twelve 4-ounce baby lamb rib chops
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 2 teaspoons minced fresh rosemary
  • 2 teaspoons chopped dried lavender buds
  • Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper

Light a grill. Rub the lamb all over with the olive oil and drizzle with the vinegar. In a small bowl, combine the sugar, rosemary and lavender and season with salt and pepper. Rub the herb mixture over the lamb and grill over high heat, turning occasionally, about 8 minutes for medium-rare meat. Transfer to a platter, season with salt and pepper and serve.


Spring Lettuce Salad with Roasted Asparagus
Food & Wine

  • 1 pound medium asparagus
  • 1/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest # Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 10 ounces mixed spring lettuces
  • One 1 1/2-ounce piece of Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, shaved into curls with a vegetable peeler

Preheat the oven to 450°. On a rimmed baking sheet, toss the asparagus with 1 tablespoon of the oil and the lemon zest and season with salt and pepper. Roast the asparagus for about 8 minutes, until just tender and the tips begin to turn brown.

In a small bowl, whisk the lemon juice with the mustard and the remaining 1/3 cup of olive oil. Season with salt and pepper.

In a large bowl, toss the lettuces with all but 2 tablespoons of the dressing. Arrange the salad on plates and top with the roasted asparagus and cheese curls. Drizzle the remaining dressing over the asparagus and serve.