Tag Archives: arugula

Spaghetti al Cartoccio with Arugula, Tomatoes, & Garlic

Cooking ‘al cartoccio’ in Italian usually refers to baking in parchment or foil packets, but grilling al cartoccio is a great technique, as long as you use foil and not parchment. It opens up so many possibilities for outdoor cooking, including pasta on the grill.

Grilling pasta in aluminum foil packets allows you to forgo last-minute boiling and saucing of pasta; this is a great advantage when entertaining, since you can boil and sauce the pasta, and prepare the packets up to 3 hours ahead, then just pop them onto a hot grill (or in the cooler months, into a hot oven) a few minutes before you are ready to serve. It’s also a fabulous way to enjoy outdoor cooking when the craving for pasta strikes.

Since the pasta will cook further once it is on the grill, remember to cook it slightly under al dente so it is not overcooked by the time you pull the packets off the grill. And be sure to allow guests to open their own steaming packets at the table: the aroma exuded upon opening the packets will enthrall even the most jaded guest.

Serves 4

For the sauce:

  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/8 teaspoon chili flakes
  • 2 pints grape tomatoes, quartered
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 bunches arugula, leaves only, washed, dried, and cut into fine, thin strips
  • 1/2 cup (2 ounces) freshly grated Pecorino Romano

For the pasta:

  • 2 tablespoons salt
  • 1 pound spaghetti

garlic1200

chili-garlic-in-pan

Make the sauce: Place the olive oil, garlic, and chili in a large pan. Set over medium heat and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add the tomatoes, season with the salt and pepper, and cook 5 minutes, or until the tomatoes start to break down and release their juices. Stir in the arugula until wilted and transfer to a large bowl; stir in the Pecorino and set aside.

arugulaclose1200

chitarra

Make the pasta: Bring 5 quarts of water to a boil. Add the salt and the spaghetti, and cook until the spaghetti are almost, but not quite, al dente, about 7 minutes (if using fresh spaghetti, cook less long, just until barely tender). Drain, reserving ½ cup of the pasta cooking water.

Toss the spaghetti with the sauce in the bowl and adjust the seasoning if needed. Stir in the 1/2 cup of reserved pasta cooking water; the spaghetti will dry quite a bit as it cooks later.

Cut heavy-duty aluminum foil into four large squares. Place the aluminum foil on the counter, shiny side up. Mound the spaghetti, along with its sauce and any liquid that has collected in the bowl, on one side of each piece of aluminum foil (if you don’t include the liquid in the packets, the spaghetti will come out dry after cooking).

Fold the short sides of the aluminum foil over first, then seal the long side of the aluminum foil tightly as well, rolling the foil over itself a few times so that the cooking juices cannot run out once the packets are placed on the grill. (The recipe can be made up to this point 3 hours ahead; do not refrigerate or the spaghetti will become tough in the refrigerator.)

Heat a grill on high for 10 minutes (or preheat the oven to 400 degrees).

Arrange the packages seam side up on the grill and grill for 5 minutes (or if baking, place the packets on a baking sheet, and bake in the preheated oven for 8 minutes), or until the spaghetti inside feels hot to the touch.

Place each aluminum foil packet on a dinner plate and serve immediately, letting guests open the packets at the table.

spaghetticartoccio1200

Fall Salad of Pomegranate, Seckel Pears, Feta, & Roasted Beet

Salads are the most amazing food. What else allows you to play as freely with texture, color, and flavor? Desserts, I suppose; but desserts are far more contrived, the result much further from the original ingredients. A good salad just draws on the nature of each ingredient to create an amazing whole. The salad below, which has quickly become our favorite over the last few weeks, is a prime example of how you can combine contrasting elements to create a truly spectacular dish with little effort.

Start with sweet, earthy baby beets, and roast them. Slice crisp Seckel pears, skin and all. Toast nutty pumpkin and sunflower seeds. Pop ruby-hued, tart pomegranate seeds out of their sheath. Crumble salty Feta. Line a platter with refreshing leaves of lettuce. Enjoy. Crave the rest of the week, until you make it again.

A delicious variation: swap peppery arugula for the lettuce, and toasted hazelnuts for the seeds.

pomegranate-salad-set-up1200


Serves 2 as an appetizer

  • 1 large beet or 2 medium beets, about 1/2 pound total, scrubbed and trimmed
  • 1 teaspoon Kosher salt
  • 2 tablespoons Sherry vinegar
  • 1/8 teaspoon plus 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 ripe Seckel pears, cored and thinly sliced
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons sunflower seeds
  • 2 tablespoons pumpkin seeds
  • 1 pomegranate
  • 1 small head oak leaf or other curly, sweet lettuce, washed, dried, torn into bite-size pieces
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 ounce French Feta, crumbled

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Place the beets on a sheet of aluminum foil, sprinkle with the Kosher salt, and wrap to enclose in the foil. Place on a baking sheet. Roast in the preheated for 1 hour, or until tender and easily pierced with a knife. Cool, then unwrap and remove the skins with a sharp knife or by rubbing with paper towels. Cut into thin slices and place in a small bowl. Pour on 1 tablespoon of the Sherry vinegar, and season with 1/8 teaspoon of the salt and 1/8 teaspoon of the pepper. Set aside to steep for 10 minutes or up to 2 hours at room temperature.

In a small bowl, toss the sliced pears with the lemon juice. Set aside for 10 minutes (but no longer than 30 minutes, or the pears will become mushy).

In a small, dry skillet over medium heat, toast the sunflower and pumpkin seeds until golden, stirring often, about 3 minutes; set aside.

Cut the pomegranate in half along the width (in other words, along the Equator line). Working over a bowl to catch the juices and stray seeds, remove the seeds from the pomegranate. Pick out any bits of papery skin.

pomegranate-beet-salad1200

When you are ready to serve, toss the greens with the remaining tablespoon of Sherry vinegar, the remaining 1/4 teaspoon of the salt, and the remaining 1/8 teaspoon of the pepper. Add the olive oil and toss again. Taste for seasoning and adjust as needed. Divide among 2 plates.

Top with the beets and any of their marinade, followed by the pears and any of their juices. Scatter the sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, pomegranate seeds, and Feta over the top. Serve at once, before the greens wilt.

pomegranate-salad-finished1200