Dinner, Duck, Lunch, Meats, Pasta

Braised duck and red wine ragu pasta

Braised duck and red wine ragu pasta

This is a very lovely meal to make for people you love very much because it takes forever. But it is very much worth it, and if there’s just two of you, you get to enjoy not one but two leftovers!

As tends to be the case with sauces, this tastes better the next day, so you can make the ragu with a full belly and then all you’ll have to do the next day is heat it up and cook the pasta. You can enjoy a quick but decadent dinner even on a weekday!

The recipe is written to be leftover friendly. Cook only the pasta you need on the day you’re having it (step 11), and combine it with as much sauce as each person desires, directly into each plate.

Also written into the recipe is one way in which to prevent the pasta from hardening and sticking together: combining it with a little bit of sauce. This is a less photogenic option than adding the sauce to the bare pasta at the dinner table but I personally think this is a photogenic sacrifice that is worth making. I’ve also heard you can prevent the pasta from hardening by running it under cold water and then under hot water again to heat it back up, which I’ve tried but was not happy with because I couldn’t get the pasta to get hot enough. And I’ve read that you can instead combine the pasta with some olive oil, but I have not tried this because I’m worried it would become too greasy. #pickyeaterproblems

This dish would be even more lovely with homemade pasta. I use the next best thing, egg pasta imported from Italy. I still use the Filotea brand that I buy from the World Market section of my local Bed Bath & Beyond. I did run out and tried a pasta that was still imported from Italy but was 100% semolina for a set of portions and I’m sorry to say that I was disappointed. You likely need to add quite a bit of salt to the water when making non-egg pasta to have it taste good, and I don’t know enough about the chemistry to know how adding salt to the water affects the sodium content of the dish.

I made this first for a surprise birthday dinner for my husband and then it took a year for duck legs to come back in stock at Whole Foods so I could remake it. I loved it the first time but there’s just something about the novelty of making something that’s time-intensive for the first time that prevents me from being able to be objective. Second time around, the ragu is still delicious and since the recipe yields 6 portions, the amount of time and effort it takes feels more worth it.

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Brunch, Dinner, Lunch, Meats, potatoes, Quick, Salad, Sausage

Sausage and potato roast salad with arugula and shallots

Here’s a quick, weeknight friendly dinner to try out now that it’s fall and the oven is back in commission. This salad has a very complex taste for how few ingredients it combines and it is tasty with both fingerling and colorful mini potatoes.

The recipes this one is adapted from call for a lot more sausage and shallots. I’ve made this several times and tweaked the recipe with each iteration until I finally found a balance I liked with enough sausage to be filling but not too heavy and just a small amount of shallots, enough to add a little bit of sweetness. 1/2 sausage link per person is plenty for lunch or brunch and can be increased to 3/4 of a link for dinner (and the remaining sausage can be used as a pizza topping!) I use just one shallot per person, and I peel and slice it before I roast it so it can caramelize and crisp in the pan. I try to keep as much of the basal stem in tact as I can when I separate it from the roots so the shallot layers stay together when I slice it. I keep the shallots in for the same amount of time as the potatoes because I like them extra crispy. If they look too crispy for you, they can be removed before the final stir, as noted in the instructions.

The only decision I’m still on the fence about is how small to cut the sausage before roasting. Cutting them into 1″ pieces yields pieces large enough to slice into that stay tender inside whereas cutting them into 1/2″ pieces produces crispier and bite-sized pieces that can be more evenly distributed in the salad. For the salad in these pictures, the sausage is cut into 1/2″ pieces and I used 1/2 sausage link per person.

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Dinner, Lunch, Pasta, Quick, Seafood, Shrimp, Walnuts

Shrimp pasta with parmesan and ground walnuts

Shrimp pasta with parmesan and ground walnuts

We’ve been eating more pasta since I discovered egg pasta that tastes more like freshly-made pasta than the kind we can find at our grocery store. Egg pasta is generally yellow, looks more brittle, cooks more quickly and comes, for some mysterious reason, in fragile packaging like bags or boxes with an exposed, shrink-wrapped front. The kind we get is much pricier than the $1 boxes of pasta we used to get, but it’s so much tastier, it’s completely worth it. It also has some sodium from the egg so it tastes good on its own even though we don’t salt the water when we cook it.

This recipe is fairly quick but it does require a little bit of multitasking and figuring out the timing can be a little tricky. We first prepare the shrimp and set it in the fridge to marinate for at least half an hour. We’ve found that marinating it in a carbonated beverage helps make the shrimp taste more tender. We usually marinate it in the cheapest beer we have; pop or soda also works well. We aim to have the pasta and the sauce ready at the same time so we give the pot of water for the pasta a little bit of time to warm up, then start preparing the sauce in a frying pan. We start cooking the pasta after we add the shrimp to the sauce and give it a couple of minutes to cook. The shrimp cooks pretty quickly so the timing will need to be adjusted if you’re using a pasta that takes longer than 4 minutes to cook.

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