My colleague goes on an annual fishing trip to Alaska, typically in the early Summer months. He comes back with an abundance of great fish, and often brings them in to work and tells us to grab what we want. Salmon and halibut are typically […]
Month: March 2010
My wife loves pasta salads, and I think she likes everything about them. And who does not love pasta salad? I mean, you can get as creative as you want when it comes to these sorts of dishes. Meat or no meat, different types of pasta, cheeses, and vegetables. So recently I wanted to come up with a different pasta salad that incorporated some really unique flavors, and offered a whole new take on a pasta salad.
First things first. Asparagus. I really do love asparagus, especially when wrapped in bacon. So, I thought that a pasta salad, with asparagus, a simple dressing, and some lettuce would be really fresh and delicious. It proved out to be just that.
- small bunch of asparagus, stalk snapped, and spears cut into 3 inch pieces
- 3 cups of arugula, cleaned, and dried
- 3/4 cup of extra virgin olive oil
- 1/2 tsp dried red pepper flakes
- 2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
- zest and juice of one lemon
- 1 cup of Pecorino Romano
- 2 tbsp kosher salt (for pasta water)
- ice water
Begin by bringing a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add in your asparagus and cook for about four minutes. Remove with some tongs, and place them in the ice water to prevent them from cooking any further, as well as retain their great green color.
To that same pot of boiling water, add in your capellini. Capellini is basically very thin Italian pasta. You will only cook this pasta for like 3-4 minutes as well as it is so thin. Once cooked, drain, and place inside your serving bowl.
Next get your dressing going. Roll a whole lemon on your counter to get the juices going, literally. Zest it, and slice it in half to gather all of the juice, of course being careful not to let any seeds get past you. So you have the zest and the juice sitting in a bowl. Toss in your garlic, chili flake, and olive oil, and mix well.
You are pretty much ready to go. Remove the asparagus from the ice water, and set aside. To your pasta, add the Pecorino Romano cheese, the asparagus, and the arugula. Add the dressing, and with some tongs, or a couple of forks, mix everything. You want to incorporate the dressing as best as you can, as well as the cheese.
Plate and serve.
The great thing about this pasta salad is that you get a great citrus dressing, the peppery flavor from the arugula, and the lettuce flavor from the asparagus. Top that off with the sharpness of the cheese, and you have yourself one great salad. The only fallback you ask? Yes, we all know it, that scent from the asparagus the next day.
Not too long ago, a friend and old colleague of mine sent a picture on Facebook of a simple picture of salsa. That is all it was. A picture of a small ramekin of dark and delicious looking salsa. The foodie that I am, I responded immediately with a comment, and that built some small conversation regarding this small bowl of delicious looking salsa. Another friend and old colleague of mine chimed in and said, ‘hey, that looks like chile de arbol’.
I was already hungry, and looked into my cabinets, and brought out the bags of chiles I already I had on hand. Chile de arbol. A pepper that has a great red color to it, and one that carries with it a bit of heat. One that would be perfect to concoct a killer salsa, and I was ready for the heat. After looking at the picture on Facebook, I investigated what could possibly be in there. I noticed the usual suspects, and decided to come up with my own take on chile de arbol.
There are ingredients, in my opinion, that make a really good salsa. As many Americans are used to that jarred crap of chunky salsa (no offense), there are easy techniques, and easy ingredients that can make a salsa any way you want. Whether it be sweet, hot, chunky, or smooth, the beautiful thing about salsa is that you are in control of the situation. Roasting vegetables, or cooking in a hot cast iron skillet, or heck, for that matter, fresh and blended, salsa reigns king in so many ways.
- 6 tomatillos, husked, cleaned, and cut in half
- 12-18 chile de arbol peppers (less equals less heat)
- 2 cloves of garlic, lightly smashed
- 1 shallot, cut in half
- 1/4 cup of water
- 1/4 cup of cilantro
- 1 tsp kosher salt
Start with a cast iron skillet. If you do not have one, use your oven, on 425 degrees, and place the chilies on the skillet or roasting pan, and cook for about 5 minutes, just enough time to release some of the oils of the chilies. Once the chilies are lightly roasted, place in a bowl with 1/4 cup of the water.
Next, add the garlic, shallots, and tomatillos to the cast iron skillet. Cook for about 10 minutes, until you have a nice charred appearance on all of the items in the skillet.
Get your blender out, and add in the chilies and water, and the roasted vegetables. Toss in the salt and cilantro, and blend until you have a nice puree. Remove from the blender, and add to a container to let chill.
Now get ready. Get your chips out, get some soft tortillas, or get your favorite slow cooked meat out, and drizzle this salsa all over it. The great heat, the sweetness, and the flavors of this salsa, really make this one awesome. Thanks to Justin and Romke for stirring the conversation. Sometimes that is all that is needed.