A simple pasta with a big, bold taste. And it’s vegetarian.
When I was a tot, as both my parents went off to work, my older brother would walk me a couple blocks away to the babysitter’s every weekday morning before he trotted off to school.
I didn’t always go gladly.
But what soothed me every time was lunch.
It was the same thing every single day, by my own choice — a bowl of Chinese wheat noodles, boiled until toothsome, then dumped into a bowl before being stirred up with a couple glugs of oyster sauce right out of the bottle.
Even then, a mountain of umami-packed noodles had the power to make everything seem right in the world.
One forkful of “Miso Brown Butter and Crispy Sage Pasta” was all it took to send me back to those childhood days.
It’s from the new cookbook “Family: New Vegetarian Comfort Food to Nourish Every Day” (Prestel), of which I received a review copy. Written by food writer and cook Hetty McKinnon, it’s filled with vibrant vegetarian fare that I found a lot more imaginative than many books in this genre.
Classic olive oil-garlic-hot pepper pasta gets a boost.
You gotta love a recipe that’s so easy yet so sublime that it can be both a quick clean-out-the-pantry desperation dish, as well as a fit-for-company dazzler.
“Pasta Aglio E Olio Con Peperoncino” is exactly that.
It’s straight-forward enough to whip together on a weeknight when you don’t know what else to make after coming home after work. And it’s special enough to make for spur-of-the-moment guests who come calling unexpectedly.
It’s from “House of Vinegar: The Power of Sour, with Recipes” (Ten Speed Press), of which I received a review copy. It’s by James Beard Award-winning Chef Jonathon Sawyer of Cleveland’s Greenhouse Tavern. You may recognize as a competitor on the Food Network’s “Iron Chef Gauntlet” and the Cooking Channel’s “Chopped.”
As the name implies, the book is all about how vinegar can transform dishes. Depending upon how much you use, it adds noticeable tang, rounds flavors, and can help tame and balance sweetness, bitterness and saltiness.
A last-minute flavoring addition makes this clam pasta extra delicious.
There are times when I can be pretty predictable. Case in point? If spaghetti or linguini vongole is on a menu, it’s almost a sure bet that I will order it.
First off, I buck the trend in being an unabashed carb lover. Second, clam pasta is a little lighter than a meaty ragu. Third, there’s just something so appealing about a big bowl of tender clams tossed with toothsome noodles that get coated in all those sweet, briny juices.
I’ve made quite a few versions of it at home over the years. But my new favorite has to be the one I saw in the Wall Street Journal last summer. “Spaghetti Vongole” is by Chef Nina Compton of Compere Lapin in New Orleans. If you’re a “Top Chef” fan, you may remember her as a contestant on Season 11.
A little bit Italian, a little bit Vietnamese.
Inspiration comes in many forms.
Reading a clever turn of phrase that captivates. Feeling the bracing spray of the ocean against your face. Viewing the magnificence of a rocket-red sunset.
For me, it came in the form of snails.
Escargot, actually. Loaded up in a saucy dish at Cassia in Santa Monica to be exact.
Chef Bryant Ng melds French and Vietnamese influences in his dishes. His charred naan-like flatbread with a side of chopped lemongrass escargot, which I enjoyed at his restaurant earlier this year, is nothing short of spectacular.
My husband and I attacked the dish, finishing every last drop and crumb. All the while, I kept thinking how amazing this escargot would be tossed with pasta.
It only takes a handful of ingredients to make this sensational pasta dish.
How many times do you come home pooped, cranky and starved, only to peer into a half-empty fridge and wonder what in the world you can eat to make you feel a whole lot better fast?
“Fettuccine with Preserved Lemon and Roasted Garlic” will do the trick.
Especially if you keep a handy-dandy jar of home-made preserved lemons in your fridge at all times like me. Which you should.
Particularly if you grow your own little pot of rosemary. Which you ought — because it comes in so handy.
And most readily, if you keep a stash of already roasted garlic in your fridge or freezer. Which you need to promise yourself you’ll do, because you’ll use it for so many things, including the tastiest garlic bread on the fly.
The pasta recipe is from “The Homemade Kitchen: Recipes For Cooking With Pleasure” (Clarkson Potter), of which I received a review copy.
The cookbook is by Alana Chernila, a Massachusetts food writer and cooking teacher who blogs at EatingFromTheGroundUp.