• BLT Pasta with Garlic Croutons

    Hello friends!! For today’s recipe, yes, you read that right, it’s BLT PASTA!! One of life’s simple pleasures is a good sandwich, and in my opinion, nothing matches the near perfection of a good BLT in the summer. The crisp bacon, juicy tomato, fresh lettuce, it’s a classically delicious combination that one would not think could possibly be improved. HOWEVER, that was before you considered this recipe. Adapted from The New York Times (recipe here), this pasta has all the best parts of a traditional BLT sandwich, as well as the addition of peppery arugula and salty pecorino romano cheese. An added bonus? The sauce practically cooks itself! After frying the bacon, halved cherry tomatoes are cooked in the resulting bacon fat and reduced to a bubbling, rich but not heavy sauce, made even silkier with the freshly grated cheese and pasta water. All you have to do is stir it all together!

    Enjoying these beautifully colored gems while I can!!

    My own version of this meal includes one extra accent in the form of crispy garlic croutons because I just really love mixing bread and pasta. Is that weird? My all time favorite pasta dish is literally just pasta tossed with garlic breadcrumbs, sometimes with some sautéed kale and a fried egg, but also sometimes not, and it’s just SO delicious. So anyway, I figured, since this dish is adapted from a classic sandwich anyway, why not bring the bread back? And boy am I glad I did, because even just a small handful on top of your pasta swirl provides the most perfect and satisfying crunch and we quickly learned, as my mother remarked while eating this, “I could eat this pasta all night”.

    I’ve been seeing fancy noodle swirls all over my instagram and quickly realized how challenging it is to get them all to cooperate with me. How’d I do?

    Before we get started, I’m bringing you 5 more things to be happy about this week, are you ready? Let’s go!

    ONE. The newly released Netflix movie To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before – which is heartwarming, sweet, and impossible to watch just once.

    TWO. Eating a cup full of cold, cubed watermelon and feeling instantly refreshed.

    THREE. The immediate relaxation you feel when stepping into an air-conditioned space from the heat outside.

    FOUR. Playing the same song over and over while driving by yourself, with no one to tell you not to.

    FIVE. Dinners where everyone gathers around the table long after the food is finished, simply enjoying each other’s company.

    Are we feeling happy? Hungry? Let’s get cooking!!

    Prep Time: 45 minutes
    Cook Time: 20 minutes
    Serves: 6-8 dinner portions (plus leftovers for tomorrow – or midnight!!)

    Ingredients

    2 boxes pasta of your choice (I used bucatini but any tube like pasta works!)
    12oz. bacon, diced
    2 lbs. cherry tomatoes, halved
    10 oz. arugula, washed and dried
    1 cup freshly grated pecorino romano cheese, plus more for sprinkling
    ½ loaf ciabatta bread, torn into bite size chunks
    3 garlic cloves, minced
    Olive oil
    Kosher salt + pepper
    Red pepper flakes

    Steps

    ONE. Bring pasta water to boil in a large pot. Cook your pasta according to the package instructions for al dente, reserving 2 cups of the pasta water.

    TWO. In a shallow pan (I used a cast iron skillet), heat a few tablespoons of olive oil over medium heat and add crushed red pepper flakes to your liking, depending on your spice preference. I used about ½ tsp for these croutons. Add in the torn pieces of ciabatta and stir so that every piece is coated with olive oil. Toast until the bread becomes golden brown and crispy, about 5-7 minutes. Set aside.

    THREE. While the water is coming to a boil, crisp your bacon in a large skillet or pot on medium-high heat, then remove and drain on a paper towel-lined plate, taking care to keep as much of the bacon fat left in the pan as possible. Add the halved cherry tomatoes to the pan with the bacon fat, and cook on medium heat until the tomatoes become soft and begin to burst. Be sure to scrape the bottom of the pot to incorporate the browned bacon bits into the sauce as well. Season with salt and pepper, and after about 5 minutes of cooking, add half of the cooked bacon back to this sauce and mix to combine.

    Look at these cuties doing their thing!!

    FOUR. With the heat on medium-high, add the cooked pasta straight from the water into the skillet with the tomato sauce. Add in your arugula plus ½ cup pasta water and cook for a minute until the arugula begins to wilt slightly. Stir in the cheese and an additional ½ cup pasta water, mixing everything together until the sauce becomes smooth and almost shiny, and coats the pasta. Feel free to add more pasta water as needed, until you reach the desired consistency.

    I almost dropped my phone into the pasta for this shot, you’re WELCOME

    FIVE. To serve, pile a generous helping of pasta onto a plate or into a shallow bowl, add a handful of garlic croutons, a sprinkling of crisped bacon pieces, and a heaping snow shower of grated cheese. Best enjoyed with a glass of chilled white wine.

    YUM!! xoxoxoxoD

  • Eggs In Purgatory

    You know when you love breakfast foods, but you’re also really lazy? Um, hello, that’s me. In college, I got so used to scheduling all my classes at 11am or later, just so I could stay up until 2am but also get a reasonable amount of sleep (healthy, I know), but NOW, even after a full year of adulthood in the workforce, I am so unprepared for how tired I feel during the week. As a result, Saturdays are my sacred sleeping late days, and I take them very seriously thank you very much. With this being the case, I am not often awake early enough for breakfast, which is actually a real bummer given how many breakfast recipes I want to try. I’ve always wanted to be a morning person and have been trying to push myself not to sleep so late on the weekends, but it’s slow going for sure.

    I was super proud of this presentation, I’m not gonna lie…

    That being said, I think I may have just found the key. It all started when I got a copy of Cook’s Illustrated magazine for my birthday (thanks Anne!!). This particular copy was the “Special Collector’s Edition” of All-Time Best Breakfast & Brunch Recipes. A dream come true, right?? It had every recipe you could possibly imagine, complete with detailed notes on the testing of each one so that you could be sure you were getting the best results. However, the recipe that really caught my eye was the one for “Eggs In Purgatory”. Similar to Shakshuka, Eggs In Purgatory is essentially baked eggs in a tomato sauce, this time with Italian flavors. As a fake Italian, this was really what drew me in (for clarification, I’m not Italian at all but I just really wish I was).

    The key to this recipe is cooking the eggs two different ways to ensure they are properly cooked without compromising the overall dish. This means that you first make the sauce on the stovetop, crack in the eggs, cook for a bit, and THEN bake, and the end result will be the breakfast dish of your dreams. An added bonus? Every step of this meal is cooked in one pan (not counting the toasting of the bread), so you can spend more quality time with your guests (or yourself, if you make this whole thing for you I will not judge, it’s called self care!!). *Disclaimer* The recipe technically serves 4 figuring that each person will eat 2 eggs, baked in a 12 inch skillet. However, I only have a 10.5 inch skillet, so I used 6 eggs. It still fed 4 of us, but I’ll let you decide how hungry you are. Let’s breakfast!

    Serves: 4-5 people
    Prep Time: 10 minutes
    Cook Time: 30 minutes

    Eggs In Purgatory Ingredients
    adapted from Cook’s Illustrated, by Cecilia Jenkins

    1 loaf Italian bread, cut into thick slices
    7 Tbs olive oil
    4 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
    ¼ cup grated onion (about half a medium onion)
    1 Tbs tomato paste
    1 tsp red pepper flakes
    ½ tsp dried oregano
    1 cup fresh basil leaves, plus more chopped for garnish
    1- 28oz. can crushed tomatoes
    6-8 large eggs (depending on your pan size and crowd)
    Parmesan cheese
    Salt & Pepper

    Eggs In Purgatory Steps

    1. Start by moving one of your oven racks to the middle slot. Arrange the sliced bread on a large baking sheet and brush each piece with olive oil. Flip to the other side and repeat so that both sides of the bread are oiled. In total, this should be about 4 of the 7 tablespoons of olive oil, but you can eyeball this as well. Broil the bread until the tops turn golden brown and crisp, turning each piece over to ensure even browning on both sides. Don’t wander too far while this is happening, things can go from lightly golden to very burnt in the blink of an eye with your broiler!! Set the bread aside and preheat your oven to 400ºF.

    2. In an oven-safe skillet (I used a cast iron one, but it’s up to you!), heat your remaining 3 tablespoons of olive oil over medium heat. Add in the sliced garlic and cook until fragrant, being careful not to brown it too much (browned garlic is very bitter). Stir in the grated onion, tomato paste, salt, red pepper flakes, and oregano so that everything is well combined. Continue to cook this mixture until the tomato paste has turned rust-colored, or a deep, reddish-brown, as this will unlock the caramelized sweetness of the tomatoes. (It should take about 5 minutes.)

    3. Toss in the basil leaves and stir, cooking for 30 seconds, or until they begin to wilt. Stir in the crushed tomatoes and bring the sauce to a simmer for 15 minutes, or until it has slightly thickened. Remember to stir occasionally!

    4. Remove the skillet from the heat and allow it to cool for 2 minutes before adding the eggs next. Crack one of your eggs into a small bowl. Using a rubber spatula, clear a large hole in the sauce, deep enough that you can see the bottom and wide enough to fit the whole egg without spilling over. Pour the egg in, making sure to keep the whites contained so that they don’t spread entirely over the surface of the tomato sauce. I found myself sort-of pushing some of the sauce up to create a little barrier if the eggs were large enough that some of the white was spilling over, and it worked out okay! Remember also that practice makes perfect, and even if some whites spill over, it’s going to taste SO. GOOD.

     

    5. Repeat with the rest of your eggs, evenly spacing out the pockets around the perimeter of the skillet, with the final egg right in the middle. Season all the eggs with salt and pepper, then cover the skillet and cook for about 3 minutes, until the whites are just setting but still a little watery. Remove the lid and carefully transfer the pan to the oven. Bake for 4 to 5 minutes for runny eggs, or 6 for soft yolks, rotating the skillet once during cooking.

    6. Remove from the oven and sprinkle with parmesan and chopped basil, then serve with the toasty bread and just TRY to keep yourself from scooping up every last bit of sauce with that bread.

    xoxoxoxoxoxoxoD

  • Orecchiette with Roasted Cherry Tomato Sauce

    Welcome to my first dinner post in so so long! I’m terribly sorry for the delay, it just seems like every good recipe I’ve had recently has been a dessert, but that ends NOW! Last week, I played Mom for my three younger sisters while my parents were away and honestly, I don’t know how anyone does it. Props to you working Moms and Dads! There just didn’t seem to be enough time (or coffee) in the day for me to get things done. I’m not even joking, there was a point in the week where I woke up with a weird pain in my right side and my first thought was “wow, I don’t have time for appendicitis, who will make dinner?”. ????? HM okay Deirdre calm down. But also it turned out to be nothing I think and I’m just going to roll with it!

    ANYWAY back to food, when I’m in charge at home, I tend to use my siblings as taste testers for things that I wouldn’t normally try to make during the week, and thank goodness for them. This time it was an adaptation of one of my favorite Smitten Kitchen recipes, Baked Tomato Sauce. Best in the summer when tomatoes are at the height of ripeness, Deb’s recipe brings out the incredibly rich sweetness of the cherry tomatoes and perfectly compliments it with the slight crunch of the toasted breadcrumbs and the lightness of some fresh basil. It’s the epitome of summer in one dish and mark my words, it’s just about perfect as is. But, since I can’t leave well enough alone, I decided to see what else I could do with it and so was born this Roasted Cherry Tomato Sauce.

    Part of the draw of this recipe is its simplicity, after accidentally spending 2 hours making a Funfetti Cake instead of dinner (post on that coming soon!), I was thrilled at how I could get everything in the pan and into the oven in under 15 minutes. So, the challenge was tweaking the recipe in a way that wouldn’t tack on another 20 minutes of prep time, and didn’t distract from the main flavor players here. In the end, I was incredibly pleased with how this came out and so were my taste testers, and I just know you’ll feel the same way too. Let’s get cooking!

     

    Ingredients
    adapted from Smitten Kitchen’s Baked Tomato Sauce

    Olive Oil
    3 pints cherry tomatoes, halved
    4 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
    ¼-½ tsp red pepper flakes
    ½ cup panko breadcrumbs
    1/3 cup grated parmigiano reggiano cheese
    4 tbs grated pecorino romano cheese
    ½ tsp dried oregano
    Kosher salt and pepper
    1½ lbs. dried orecchiette or large shell pasta
    Handful of fresh basil, chiffonade
    8oz. Bocconcini or Ciliegine (mozzarella balls!)

    Steps

    1. Preheat your oven to 400ºF. Drizzle olive oil in a 9″ x 13″ baking dish, enough to almost cover the bottom entirely. Toss in the halved cherry tomatoes, sliced garlic and red pepper flakes and mix with your hands so that everything is evenly mixed and lightly coated in olive oil. Note: the red pepper flakes measurement is variable, adjust however you’d like based on your tolerance to spicy foods!

    Look at the COLOR!!

    2. In a small bowl, mix together the breadcrumbs, cheeses, and oregano. Sprinkle this mixture evenly and generously over the tomatoes in the baking dish.

    3. Top with a generous seasoning of salt and pepper, and drizzle with about 2 tablespoons more olive oil- it doesn’t have to be exact, you just want the breadcrumbs to get a golden brown crispness!

    4. Bake the tomatoes for 25-30 minutes, or until the tomatoes are burst and bubbly and the breadcrumbs are golden brown.

    5. While the sauce is baking, bring a large pot of water to a boil, salt generously, and cook your pasta according to the package instructions. Drain.

    PEAK crispy roasty bubbliness right here.

    6. When the sauce is finished, if there is room in your baking dish, toss the cooked pasta, basil, and bocconcini straight in with the sauce and mix until everything is incorporated evenly and the mozzarella is just starting to melt. If this isn’t possible, transfer your pasta back into the large pot that you cooked it in, add the sauce, mozzarella, and basil, and mix to combine that way. Serve with a sprinkling of basil and a glass of good wine.

    YUM! xoxoxoxoxoxoD