Needless to say, there are hundreds of restaurants in New York, many of them Italian. Many, if not most, of them serve wonderful food from family recipes that they brought with them from the Old World. During our stay in Manhattan, we came across one of these small, family owned and run, restaurants and stopped there for lunch as we walked the streets of the city. We ended up trying a couple of their daily specials, one ravioli and the other fettuccine. Both of them were wonderful, but we especially liked the fettuccine as it was different than most pasta dishes that we have had. In our attempt to replicate it, we had little to go on other than the picture that we took during our meal, but it turned out to be delicious as well as very simple to prepare. As is often the case, simple dishes with only a few ingredients can often be some of the best.
1 lb Fresh Fettuccine
1 lb Baby Spinach
1 lb Ground Pork – unseasoned
2 tbsp Italian Seasoning
1 tbsp Garlic Powder
1 tbsp Red Pepper Flakes – more or less depending on how spicy you would like it
1/2 cup Shredded Parmesan Cheese
4 tbsp Unsalted Butter
6 tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Salt and Pepper to taste
Be sure to use plain ground pork and not a seasoned pork sausage. In a large bowl, combine the pork, Italian seasoning, garlic powder, red peppers, salt and pepper and be sure to incorporate the spices throughout the meat. It is best to work the meat and spices with your hands as you would if you were going to make meatballs. Set the pork aside for about 30 minutes to let the seasonings infuse the meat and allow the meat to come to room temperature. Heat a large skillet with 2 tablespoons of olive oil to medium-high heat. Add the pork, breaking it up into rough bite size chunks as it browns. Sauté the pork until it is fully cooked and slightly browned, about 10 minutes while stirring frequently. Remove the pork, leaving as much of the oil and fat, and set aside on a plate with a paper towel to drain. Add the baby spinach in batches and heat until it is wilted and soft. The spinach will reduce to about 1/4th as it wilts. Once all of the spinach has been cooked, reduce the heat to low and combine the pork and spinach. Cook the fettuccine according to the package directions, being sure to reserve about a cup of the pasta water. In a large bowl, combine the butter and the fettuccine and mix thoroughly until the pasta is coated. Combine the pork, spinach, and pasta water and toss gently together. Divide onto plates and shred the parmesan cheese over top and serve.
We have very specific meals that we have on special occasions and lamb is our Easter tradition. There is something about having lamb that is very emblematic of the coming of spring to us and we look forward to this meal every year. It doesn’t have to be a leg of lamb, but that is our preference when we are able to get it. Surprisingly, lamb isn’t as easy to find here in Colorado and it is often expensive, which doesn’t really make a lot of sense to us. Oven roasted red potatoes is definitely our favorite starch to serve with lamb and sautéing spinach made for a light and refreshing vegetable.
5 lb, Bone-in, Leg of Lamb
2 tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 Garlic Clove – finely minced
1 tbsp Fresh Rosemary – chopped
Salt and Pepper to taste
1/4 cup All-Purpose Flour
1/3 cup Water
In a small bowl, combine the olive oil, garlic, rosemary, salt, and pepper. Place the lamb, fat side up, on a rack in a roasting pan. Rub the herb mixture over the top of the lamb. Pour a cup of water into the bottom of the pan. Pre-heat the oven to 425 degrees and place the lamb on the middle rack in the center of the oven. Cook for 15 minutes and then reduce the heat to 350 degrees. Continue cooking for an hour and thirty minutes (approximately 20 minutes per pound) or when an instant-read thermometer reads 155 degrees at the thickest part of the lamb, but not near the bone. Remove the lamb from the pan, cover, and set aside for 15 minutes to rest. Using red wine or water, deglaze the bottom of the roasting pan and pour the drippings into a small saucepan over medium heat. Whisk together the flour and water to make a rue. Once the pan drippings are hot, slowly whisk in the flour mixture until the gravy is at the desired consistency. Be sure to add the flour mixture when the drippings are nice and hot to avoid lumps in the gravy. If desired, roast red potatoes that have been quartered with olive oil, garlic powder, chopped rosemary, salt and pepper, in an oven at 450 degrees for 40 minutes or until golden brown. In a sauté pan, add olive oil, spinach, red pepper flakes, stone-ground mustard, salt and pepper and cook the spinach over medium-high heat until wilted. Enjoy with a nice glass of wine. 🙂
Now that Autumn is here, we decided to make some comfort food that wasn’t as heavy as some of the things that we make during winter. We made this with crab claw meat, but you could easily substitute with lobster or a combination of other seafood. It is pretty simple to make and is quite delicious. Pairing it with a simple salad made it a perfect and easy weeknight meal.
3 tbsp Unsalted Butter
3 tbsp Flour
2 cups Milk
1 pinch Fresh Nutmeg
3 oz Fresh Spinach – cleaned, stemmed, and chiffonade
4 oz Parmesan Cheese – grated
1 cup Ricotta Cheese
1 tsp Garlic – minced
8 oz Fresh Mozzarella Cheese – sliced
1 lb Crabmeat – shells removed
Salt and Pepper to taste
Lasagna Sheets (we used the ready to bake lasagna sheets or cook to package directions)
Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees. In a medium sauce pan, melt the butter and stir in the flour, whisking for 2 minutes in order to make a rue. Slowly add the milk, whisking continuously. Add the salt, pepper, and nutmeg. Continue cooking for 4 to 6 minutes until sauce has thickened. Remove from heat and add the spinach, crabmeat, and 1/4 cup of the parmesan cheese. Set aside. In a small bowl, combine the ricotta cheese, garlic, salt, pepper, and egg. Mix well. Spray a 7″ by 11″ casserole dish with non-stick cooking spray. Spread some of the sauce mixture across the bottom of the pan and then add a layer of noodles. Spread the sauce across the noodles, then add 1/3 of the ricotta mixture, and 1/3 of the mozzarella cheese. Add another layer of noodles and repeat 2 more times. Add the rest of the parmesan cheese across the final layer, cover with aluminum foil and bake for 30 minutes. Uncover and bake for another 5 to 10 minutes until the cheese starts to brown. Remove from the oven and let rest for 10-15 minutes. Cut and serve.