White Bean Ravioli

There’s something inherently pleasing about eating ravioli. Talk about the texture, that soft pop as you break through the skin of pasta and reach an explosive filling. Or the distinct, two-tone flavor. Just as you’re starting to enjoy the childhood simplicity of buttered noodles – oh, you heard me, I serve these with butter – SNAP! The whole thing tears open and an avalanche of filling bursts forth. To everyone who takes more than one bite to eat ravioli: you’re doing it wrong. And with a filling like this – creamy ricotta fortified by cannelloni, accented with Parmesan and subtle notes of nutmeg, the whole deal complemented on the opposite side of the pasta wall with butter and a warm, garlicky tomato sauce – there’s no better surprise and few things more enjoyably edible.

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Pasta e Fagioli

Sleet is defined as a semi-crystalline combination of snow and rain that – while distinguishing itself from ice pellets (little droplets of ice that fall to earth like many thousands of aquatic meteorites) or freezing rain (liquid rain so cold that it crystallizes into ice once making contact with the ground) – holds a hallowed place in the Hall of Miserable Precipitation as the worst thing to get trapped in on the commute home. After drying myself of the damp, freezing water that had managed, in my 40 second sprint from the car to the door of my building, to adhere itself to each and every exposed square centimeter of the skin on my hands and face, and then seep its way under my coat and through the cotton protection of my pants; I decided I needed a dish that would wholly counteract the frigid effects of sleet. An “anti-sleet” if you will; a warm, semi-solid stew administered via heaping gulps of rich, tomato broth and fortifying hand cut noodles, spotted here and there with the winking pupils of black-eyed peas. This is my take on Pasta e Fagioli and, whether you find yourself pursued by freezing rain or no, it’s damn delicious.    

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Lentils and Spaetzle

Alas, a proper recipe for bagels has eluded me for yet another week. For anyone who has been waiting, I have been making batches with bread flour, but I’m still working out some of the kinks with how I prove my dough and ensure good rise. The attempted bagels are coming out delicious – doughy, chewy, just salty enough – but they are going to have to wait a little while longer.

So, this week I bring you Lentils and Spaetzle. img_0664.jpgGrowing up, this dish would land on the dining room table to great applause and much fanfare. A cheesy, hearty, stomach-filling dish made by European Mountain People (Swiss and Germans) to warm themselves from the inside out. The true beauty of this dish (aside from the cheese) is that it’s essentially buttered noodles and stewed beans – something I think even the most picky of us can get behind. As a former Floridian, the temperature drop here in Memphis made me run to the stove to get everything boiling. This is the kind of dish that fills your kitchen and your house with a warm, foggy perfume. This is the kind of dish that you and your favorite couch blanket can curl up with. Yes, it’s October and the temperature sank only into the fifties, but I’m getting chilly, so this is Lentils and Spaetzle.

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Pasta Carbonara

This recipe is The Happy Noodle. IMG_0302Recently, Alexis has been claiming that my meatball subs are her new favorite, but she isn’t fooling me. This is the dish I make on birthdays, Valentine’s, whenever we go visit family. This is the dish I made the night I proposed. This is the dish. And if you make it, you’ll know why. It’s decadent in a way no other pasta dish is; peppery and cheesy, meaty and creamy without being overwhelming. It’s luxurious and at the same time down-to-earth, a staple dish of our home. I’ll show you how to make it and which rules you need to follow to make the Carbonara a Roman would be proud of.

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Gnocchi al Pomodoro

Gnocchi is my white whale. IMG_0245Sweet, adorable little potato dumplings with just enough hold, just barely enough of that al dente snap to stop them from being mash. I have never, before this recipe, been happy with my gnocchi. I’ve made them maybe a dozen times and each time, I’ve been left with something that looks like chunky, potato pudding. Laughing at me. They’re great with just about any sauce; I’ve had them with pesto, ragu, bolognese, mushroom, and more. With this batch, I did a simple, sweet tomato sauce, but I’ll probably melt a tablespoon of butter for the next batch and eat them straight out of the pot.

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