Make sure you get the freshest home grown cherry tomatoes for this fabulous pasta dish. Currently they are in season in our neck of the woods and, lucky for us, our Farmer’s Market was brimming with every type imaginable.
When Milk Street(where we got this recipe) sampled this no-cook tomato sauce in Sicily, it was made the traditional way, with a large mortar and pestle. A food processor gets it done faster and more easily. But The Mr. wanted to do it the traditional way in his favorite gargantuan mortar and pestle. He felt the results would produce a better paste.
Topped with crisp, olive oil–infused croutons and toasted almonds, the dish is served warm or at room temperature after the pasta has had a few minutes to soak in the flavorful sauce. Instead of blanched, slivered almonds, we used sliced, but whole almonds roughly chopped are another option.
Please don’t over-process the second addition of tomatoes. The first half is pulsed to create a juicy sauce,but the rest are pulsed only until roughly chopped so that tomato chunks add bursts of bright color and texture, and boy did they!
I usually don’t combine bread with a pasta meal because of the heavy carb count, but those croutons are a must! Serve with a veggie-laden side salad to help compensate. It’s typical to grate some cheese over a pasta dish, but even though I served some on the side, we both felt it was not necessary and might even take away from the fresh taste. Will certainly make again!
Gemelli with Fresh Tomato-Almond Pesto and Croutons
6 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil, divided, plus more to serve
3 oz. crusty white bread, torn into rough ½-inch pieces (about 1¾ cups)
In a 10-inch skillet over medium-high, toast the almonds, stirring frequently, until golden brown and fragrant, 3 to 5 minutes. Transfer to a small bowl and set aside; reserve the skillet.
In a large pot, bring 4 quarts water to a boil. Add the pasta and 2 tablespoons salt, then cook, stirring occasionally, until al dente. Reserve about ½ cup of the cooking water, then drain the pasta.
Meanwhile, in a food processor, process ½ cup of the almonds, the garlic and 2 teaspoons salt until finely chopped, about 30 seconds.
Add the basil and half of the tomatoes, then pulse until chopped and well combined, 4 to 6 pulses.
Add the remaining tomatoes and 2 tablespoons of oil, then pulse just until the whole tomatoes are broken up, about 3 pulses.
Transfer to a serving bowl, add the pasta and ¼ cup of the reserved cooking water, then toss. Let stand, tossing once or twice, for 10 to 15 minutes to allow the pasta to absorb some of the sauce.
While the pasta stands, in the same skillet used to toast the almonds, toss the bread, remaining 4 tablespoons oil, ½ teaspoon salt and ¼ teaspoon pepper. Cook over medium, stirring frequently, until the bread is crisp and golden brown, 5 to 7 minutes.
Scatter the toasted bread and the remaining ¼ cup almonds over the pasta. Drizzle with additional oil and sprinkle with pepper.
Super-moist, delicately cooked fish, this Poached Cod Fillets with Sherry-Tomato Vinaigrette recipe from Cook’s Illustrated (CI) was just the ticket for Meatless Monday. Any meaty white fish such as halibut, sea bass or snapper would also work, but cod tends to be the most economical—at least in our ‘hood.
The restaurant-style dish typically requires a pot of pricey olive oil. And even 3/4 cup may seem like a lot, but CI found that using a smaller skillet, dropping in half an onion, and flipping the fish halfway puts a nice dent in the supply needed. Plus they employed that same oil to crisp flavorful garnishes and finally blend into a creamy vinaigrette.
Speaking of garnishes, only four ounces of artichoke hearts seemed miserly at best, and many reviewers agreed. So I tripled the amount to 12 ounces, and patted myself on the back for doing so because they were the BOMB! That decision of course made it necessary to increase the volume of corn starch.
And we have been trying to locate frozen artichokes for months now, none of our local grocery stores carry them anymore—odd indeed. So if you find you’re in the same pickle, purchase the jarred version, but don’t get the marinated variety. It is essential that you drain them really well and blot them with paper towels before coating them with the corn starch. (Later found out Trader Joe’s carries frozen artichokes.)
A few other alterations included boosting the quantity of cherry tomatoes and an extra garlic clove (pretty much a staple move on our part). In addition, I placed the platter of covered, cooked cod into the turned-off oven along with the dish of artichokes to keep warm while we made the vinaigrette.
My changes are noted in the ingredients list below. And while serving the meal with couscous or steamed white rice is great to sop up all that luscious vinaigrette, we went low-carb and made a side of sautéed baby spinach.
1 1/2 lbs. skinless white fish fillets, 1 inch thick
12 oz. frozen artichoke hearts, thawed, patted dry, and sliced in half lengthwise
2-3 Tbsp. cornstarch
¾ cup olive oil
4 garlic cloves, minced
½ onion, peeled
5 ounces cherry tomatoes
½ small shallot, peeled
4 teaspoons sherry vinegar
½ teaspoon pepper
1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
4 ounces cherry tomatoes, cut into 1/8-inch-thick rounds
FOR THE FISH:
Adjust oven racks to middle and lower-middle positions and heat oven to 250 degrees. Pat fish dry with paper towels and season each fillet with 1/4 teaspoon salt. Let sit at room temperature for 20 minutes.
Meanwhile, toss artichokes and cornstarch in bowl to coat. Heat 1/2 cup oil in 10-inch nonstick skillet over medium heat until shimmering. Shake excess cornstarch from artichokes (mine didn’t have any excess to shake off) and add to skillet; cook, stirring occasionally, until crisp and golden, 2 to 4 minutes.
Add garlic and continue to cook until garlic is golden, 30 to 60 seconds. Strain oil through fine-mesh strainer into bowl. Transfer artichokes and garlic to an ovenproof plate lined with a paper towel and season with salt. Do not wash strainer.
Return strained oil to skillet and add remaining ¼ cup oil. Place onion half in center of pan. Let oil cool until it registers about 180 degrees, 5 to 8 minutes.
Arrange fish fillets, skinned side up, around onion (oil should come roughly halfway up fillets). Spoon a little oil over each fillet, cover skillet, transfer to middle rack, and cook for 15 minutes.
Remove skillet from oven. Using 2 spatulas, carefully flip fillets. (Don’t sweat it if the fillets fall apart, it’s almost impossible to flip them completely intact.)
Cover skillet, return to middle rack, and place plate with artichokes and garlic on lower-middle rack. Continue to cook fish until it registers 130 to 135 degrees, 9 to 14 minutes longer.
Gently transfer fish to serving platter, reserving 1/2 cup oil, and tent fish loosely with aluminum foil. Turn off oven, place the platter of fish in oven while also leaving plate of artichokes inside.
FOR THE VINAIGRETTE:
Process whole cherry tomatoes, shallot, vinegar, 3/4 teaspoon salt, and pepper with reserved 1/2 cup fish cooking oil in blender until smooth, 1 to 2 minutes. Add any accumulated fish juice from platter, season with salt to taste, and blend for 10 seconds. Strain sauce through fine-mesh strainer, pressing on solids to extract as much liquid as possible (discard solids).
To serve, pour vinaigrette around fish. Garnish each fillet with warmed crisped artichokes and garlic, parsley, and tomato rounds. Serve immediately.
Veal chops are a rarity in our house, typically due to the high cost. I picked these up by mistake a while back, (I meant to get pork chops, go figure!) and put them in the freezer until such time we felt like treating ourselves. (Like every day since the lockdown went into effect.)
So on a recent Friday night—when in the good ol’ days we use to dine out—those veal chops came to mind as an “aha” moment. Grilled Veal Chops with Rosemary with Green Beans and Blistered Tomatoes, can’t even tell you how good this combo was; you’ll have to make them yourself.
While this dinner is meant for 6 people, with only two veal chops on hand, we cut the marinade recipe in half and bathed them in it for one hour (you can do up to 4 hours). The grilling was super quick; about 3 minutes per side because the thickness was less than 3/4″.
With little to do, you’ll have more time to enjoy company. In fact, the green bean side dish (absolutely divine BTW) can be made ahead and served at room temperature. Get the chops marinating before guests arrive, and all you’ll have to do is toss them on the grill for a few minutes when ready to eat. Dinner done.
1 1/2 Tbsp. chopped fresh rosemary or 2 teaspoons dried
2 large garlic cloves, pressed, or 1 Tbsp. roasted garlic paste
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. ground black pepper
6 8-oz. veal rib chops (3/4 to 1 inch thick)
Whisk oil, wine, rosemary, garlic, salt and pepper to blend in 13 x 9 x 2-inch glass baking dish. Add veal chops to dish and turn to coat with marinade. Let stand at room temperature 1 hour or refrigerate up to 4 hours, turning veal occasionally.
Prepare barbecue (medium-high heat) or preheat broiler.
Remove veal from marinade, shaking off excess. Season veal with salt and pepper.
Lightly oil grill. Grill or broil veal to desired doneness, about 4 minutes per side for medium-rare. Transfer to platter. Garnish with rosemary sprigs and serve.