recipes

Restaurant Recipe Recreation: Stella’s Orecchiette with Cured Tomatoes and Sausage

When I was in Boston a few weekends ago, I ate a lot of great food. But one meal that particularly stuck in my mind was Stella’sВ orecchiette with chile flake, sausage and cured tomato. I was surprised at richness and the depth of flavor in such a seemingly simple dish. It was hearty with a fresh, robust tomato sauce. I was still thinking about it this weekend, so I recreated a version of it on Sunday.

I hadn’t cured tomatoes before, so I used this recipeВ as a guide.В I washed, scored, boiled, peeled and cut 2 pounds of grape and cherry tomatoes. (The recipe called for Romas and I would definitely use them next time. I just happened to have these little guys on hand and used them anyway because I’m a pro at making things more difficult for myself, even though it took much longer to peel all of them.)

Next, I seasoned the tomatoes with balsamic vinegar, olive oil, salt and pepper, placed them on a baking sheet and sprinkled sliced garlic on top. They went into the oven at 200 degrees F for 45 minutes.

Later in the evening, I prepared a box of orrecchiette. While the pasta cooked, I browned spicy chicken sausage. (I opted for that over pork to make the dish a little healthier.) When the meat was almost cooked, I added the cured tomatoes.

Once the pasta was al dente, I mixed the orecchiette with the tomatoes, sausages and a generous handful of chopped basil. В I was so happy with how the dish came out. It was a little less rich than Stella’s (due to swapping pork for chicken) but just as tasty–and so pretty, too!

Orecchiette with Cured Tomatoes and Chicken Sausage (inspired by Stella‘s Orecchiette with Chile Flake, Sausage and Cured Tomatoes; cured tomatoes adapted from Cork’s Oil-Cured Tomatoes)

Ingredients:

2 lbs tomatoes (I used a mix of grape and cherry tomatoes, though it’s probably best to use Romas)

1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar

1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil, plus 2 tablespoons for cooking the sausage

Salt and pepper to taste

6 cloves garlic, sliced

1 lb orecchiette

1 lb spicy chicken sausage, casing removed

a handful of fresh basil, chopped

Directions:

1. Wash and score tomatoes on the side opposite stem. Place in boiling water for 20 seconds. Scoop out and immediately dunk in an ice bath. Remove skin and seeds. Cut into halves or quarters.

2. Toss tomatoes with balsamic vinegar, olive oil, salt and pepper. Spread onto a baking sheet and sprinkle garlic on top. Bake at 200 degrees F for 45 minutes. Once cool, let tomatoes marinate in a container for at least two hours.

3. Cook orecchiette according to package directions. Once done, drain, reserving one cup pasta water.

4. In the meantime, heat olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add sausage and break up into pieces. Once nearly cooked through, add cured tomatoes, pasta and pasta water, if needed. Toss in basil before serving.

DIY Banh Mi

Two weekends ago, while unexpectedly sitting on a runway in Philly at 1 a.m., I stumbled across a recipe for grilled banh mi in Food & Wine‘s new travel issue. In addition to looking delicious, it appeared super-simple, just requiring a few ingredients, little prep time and two steps. I immediately knew that’s what we’d be grilling at Mal and Peter’s place the following weekend.

Maryland’s eastern shore, where they live, is, without doubt, the country’s best region for blue crabs. But other than that? Let’s just say, it’s definitely not New York. Thai, Korean, Vietnamese, Ethiopian, non-sushi Japanese, authentic Chinese and Italian are practically nonexistent. Mal and Peter have taken to getting their ethnic food fixes whenever they’re in NYC, Philly or DC–or they make it themselves. So we were all excited to try assembling our own banh mi.

The sandwiches came out great! It was so tasty and summery that we’ll definitely be grilling them all season long. And they really were effortless to make:

The marinade is just fish sauce, garlic, scallions, honey, sugar and pepper. We chopped and pureed the ingredients and poured the mixture over thinly sliced pork tenderloin.

After the pork marinated for two hours, Peter skewered the meat and grilled it to perfection–every piece was tender and juicy!

Then came the best part: assembling the sandwiches with hoisin sauce, Sriracha, pickled veggies, sliced cucumbers and lots of cilantro–and eating them. The recipe’s definitely a keeper:

Grilled-Pork Banh Mi (from Food and Wine)

Ingredients
1/4 cup Asian fish sauce
1 tablespoon honey
2 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
6 scallions, white and tender green parts only, thinly sliced
2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
1 1/2 pounds pork tenderloin, thinly sliced
Six 8-inch-long rolls or 2 baguettes, cut into 8-inch lengths and split
Hoisin sauce and Sriracha chile sauce
Vegetable oil, for grilling
1/2 seedless cucumber, cut into 2-by-1/2-inch matchsticks (We also used pickled veggies in addition to the cucumbers)
1 1/2 loosely packed cups cilantro sprigs

1. In a blender, puree the fish sauce with the honey, sugar, pepper, scallions and garlic. Transfer the marinade to a bowl, add the pork and toss. Refrigerate for 2 to 4 hours. Thread the pork through the top and bottom of each slice onto 12 bamboo skewers.

2. Spread the rolls with hoisin and Sriracha. Light a grill and oil the grates. Brush the pork with oil and grill over high heat, turning, until just cooked, 4 minutes. Place 2 skewers in each roll, close and pull out the skewers. Top with the cucumber and cilantro and serve.

Another Great CSA Dish

After we dumped the celery, we arrived home with one of the best CSA bounties we’ve had yet. The week’s share included fingerling potatoes, basil, sweet corn, tomatoes, a pepper, romaine lettuce, cucumbers, onions, and peaches.

Since the beginning of CSA season, we washed an cut all the veggies the day we got them to make storing and cooking easier. But a few weeks ago, we decided that it was best to cook as much as we could that day, too. That way, we’d have lunches to bring to work everyday and (in my case) wouldn’t have to stress about finding time to cook the veggies later in the week. (For a few weeks, I couldn’t escape the mental burden of having veggies in my fridge that needed to be cooked, but couldn’t carve out the time to do so.)

So last Tuesday, we set out to use as many veggies as we could in one cooking session. We made horseradish and chive potato salad. We used this fantastic Epicurious recipe to make capellini with sweet corn, basil, tomatoes, and sugar snap peas. Later in the week, we turned the lettuce and tomatoes into a simple salad, and used the sliced cucumbers for sandwiches with smoked salmon and cream cheese. Mmm…