Tag Archives: pasta

Toasted Orzo with Parmesan and Sun-dried Tomato

Prepared Mediterranean-style, this nutty Toasted Orzo Pasta Recipe with Garlic, Parmesan and Sun-dried Tomatoes will steal the show next to your favorite protein. You can even serve it as a quick and easy vegetarian meal on its own; it will feed 4 people as a vegetarian main and about 6 or so as a side dish. 

It was a superb complement to our top sirloin and veggie kebabs. In fact, this orzo recipe jumped to the top of the list and one we’ll make time and again!

Leftovers? Lucky you. It will keep in the fridge for up to 4 days in a tightly closed container. Warm over medium heat.

Toasted Orzo with Parmesan and Sun-dried Tomato

  • Servings: 4-6
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 1/2 cups orzo pasta
  • Kosher salt
  • 5 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 pinch red pepper flakes, or more to taste
  • 1/2 lemon, juiced
  • 1 cup parsley, chopped
  • 1/2 cup oregano, chopped
  • 1/3 cup sun-dried tomatoes in olive oil, chopped
  • black pepper
  • 1/2 cup grated parmesan, or more to your liking

Directions

  1. In a large saucepan, heat 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil over medium-high. Add the orzo and cook, tossing around, until toasted to a beautiful golden brown.
  2. Add at least 7 cups of boiling water to the saucepan and season well with 1 tablespoon of kosher salt. Cook the pasta in boiling water to al dente according to the package instructions (about 7 to 8 minutes).
  3. Just before the pasta is fully cooked (after about 5 minutes), remove 1 cup of the starchy pasta water and set it aside.
  4. In a large pan, warm 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil over medium heat. Add the garlic and season with a pinch of kosher salt and red pepper flakes, if using. Cook, tossing regularly, until just fragrant. Add the lemon juice and 1/2 cup of the pasta cooking water. Raise the heat if needed to bring to a boil. Add the parsley and oregano.
  5. When the pasta is ready, drain and add it to the pan and toss to combine. Season with kosher salt and black pepper. Add the sun-dried tomatoes and a 1/4 cup of the grated parmesan. Toss to combine. If needed, add a little more of the pasta cooking water.
  6. Finish with more Parmesan and red pepper flakes, if you like.

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Adapted from a recipe for MediterraneanDish.com

Summer Solution Pasta

Cherry and grape tomatoes are in abundance by late August, as is fresh corn and herbs. So this “clean-out-the-larder” approach helps you use up some of the excess staples and fresh produce in a tasty way.

It starts with a roasted cherry-tomato sauce that includes garlic, balsamic vinegar and brown sugar to add a slightly sweet note. To scale back on the sweetness, switch the balsamic to red wine vinegar and reduce or omit the brown sugar.

On occasion, we have already cooked ears of corn leftover from a previous meal. Here’s a chance to use them up. Cut the kernels off the cobs and add them to boiling water when you toss in the dried fusilli.

Once the pasta is done, plate into a large serving bowl and stir in the pesto—we used a homemade sage pesto* but one made with basil will work just as well. Next fold in the tomato mixture and let guests scoop out a serving, passing the grated parmesan around for topping. A side salad makes a nice companion to the pasta and uses up more of your produce.

*FOR THE SAGE PESTO:
• ½ cup pine nuts, toasted
• 2 garlic cloves, minced
• 1 cup fresh parsley leaves
• ½ cup fresh sage leaves
• ¾ cup extra-virgin olive oil
• 1 oz. (1/2 cup) Parmesan cheese, grated, plus extra for serving
• Salt and pepper
Pulse pine nuts and garlic in food processor until coarsely chopped, about 5 pulses. Add parsley and sage; with processor running, slowly add oil and process until smooth, about 1 minute. Transfer to bowl, stir in Parmesan, and season with salt and pepper to taste. Set aside.

Summer Solution Pasta

  • Servings: 4-6
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

  • 1 1⁄2 lbs. cherry or grape tomatoes
  • 3 garlic cloves, peeled and smashed
  • 1⁄2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar
  • 2 tsp. light brown sugar
  • 1 tsp. coarse salt
  • 1 Tbsp. fresh thyme (or 1 tsp. dried thyme)
  • 1 or 2 ears of corn, cooked with kernels cut off the cob
  • 1⁄4 cup fresh basil or sage pesto (see recipe above)
  • 1 lb. whole wheat fusilli, cooked according to package directions
  • Grated Parmesan for topping

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 325°F.
  2. Mix together tomatoes and garlic in a nonreactive 9″ x 13″ baking dish.
  3. Whisk together oil, vinegar, thyme, brown sugar and salt in a bowl. Drizzle over tomato mixture.
  4. Bake until tomatoes are softened and caramelized, about 1 hour to 1 hour and 20 minutes.
  5. Meanwhile cook the fusilli according to package directions, adding the corn kernels in with the pasta when the water starts to boil. Time it so the pasta is done at about the same time as the tomatoes.
  6. Mix the pesto into the fusilli and corn and fold in the tomato mixture.
  7. Serve, passing around the grated parmesan for topping.

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Easy Mushroom Ragù

Mushrooms are widely known for their great taste and amazing health benefits. Packed with a ton of essential vitamins and minerals, they make for an excellent addition to your diet, adding flavor to many different recipes. Thank goodness we love them!

This hearty plant-based mushroom ragù consists of readily available fresh mushrooms and is ready in about an hour. Three types of the funghi are incorporated in this recipe, but feel free to use just one or two types to make the sauce even easier. Serve vegan ragù over polenta, pasta, couscous, or even as a topping for steak or chicken.

Classic or vegan mushroom ragù will keep in the refrigerator for up to 5 days in an airtight container; in the freezer for up to 6 months. To reheat, spoon the ragù sauce into a pot over medium heat until warmed through. If it has become too thick, add a little more liquid (water or vegetable broth) to loosen it a little.

Make it even a bit healthier by using a whole wheat pasta. Of course if you add grated cheese like we did, it is no longer vegan, but we were OK with that.

Easy Mushroom Ragù

  • Servings: 4-6
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 large yellow onion, chopped
  • 2 to 3 carrots, peeled and chopped
  • 4 to 5 garlic cloves, minced
  • Kosher salt
  • 6 oz. portobello mushrooms, chopped
  • 6 oz. shiitake mushrooms, sliced
  • 8 oz. cremini mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 cup vegetable broth
  • ½ Tbsp. fresh thyme leaves
  • 1 tsp. dried oregano
  • ½ cup chopped fresh parsley, more for later
  • Black pepper
  • 1 cup dry red wine
  • 1 15- oz. can tomato sauce
  • 2 to 3 Tbsp. chopped hazelnuts (optional)

Directions

  1. In a large pot, heat 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil over medium-high heat until shimmering but not smoking. Add the onions, carrots, and garlic. Season with a big pinch of kosher salt. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables have softened, about 5 minutes.
  2. Add the mushrooms and season with another dash of salt. Add a drizzle more of olive oil and a little bit of the broth. Cook the mushrooms for about 5 minutes until they begin to soften and cook down a little bit.
  3. Add the thyme, oregano, parsley, and a good dash of black pepper. Stir.
  4. Finally, add the red wine, tomato sauce, and the remainder of the broth. Bring to a boil for 5 minutes, then reduce the heat to low and cover. Cook for 20 minutes or so covered, then uncover and allow the mushrooms to cook some more (about 15 to 20 minutes) until the mixture thickens to a ragù.
  5. To finish, taste and adjust salt to your liking. Stir in a bit more fresh parsley. If you like, add in the chopped hazelnuts (optional).
  6. Serve with your favorite pasta, polenta, or even pearl couscous

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Adapted from a recipe by Suzy Karadesh

Beef and Lamb Bolognese

This version of bolognese is half lamb and half ground beef, a mixture you’ll see a lot in northern Italy, and because the lamb is lean, this is a somewhat lighter sauce than all-beef or pork-based ragu.

The sauce needs a good long simmer, but it makes enough that you’ll likely get two meals. Giada claims the pasta shouldn’t be swimming in sauce; you only want it to stain the pasta, but we are “saucy” people and like to pile on a fair amount.

One of the ingredients is Calabrian chili paste, but a good substitute is Sriracha, and that’s what we used.

Beef and Lamb Bolognese

  • Servings: 4-6
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

  • 2 Tbsp. butter
  • 1/4 cup olive oil, divided
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 1 carrot, peeled and finely chopped
  • 1 celery, finely chopped
  • 1 tsp. kosher salt divided
  • 3/4 lb. ground lamb
  • 3/4 lb. ground beef chuck
  • 1 clove garlic chopped
  • 1 tsp. Calabrian chili paste; or Sriracha
  • 1/2 tsp. red pepper flakes
  • 1/4 cup tomato paste
  • 1/2 cup whole milk
  • 1 cup dry red wine such as chianti
  • 1 can whole San Marzano tomatoes, (28 ounce) crushed by hand
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 piece parmesan rind, (3 inch)
  • 1 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
  • 1 lb. fusilli, cooked to package instructions; or polenta

Directions

  1. Heat a medium dutch oven over medium heat. Add the butter and 2 tablespoons olive oil and warm until the butter is melted.
  2. Add the onions, carrots, celery and a 1/2 teaspoon salt. Cook stirring often for 6 minutes or until the vegetable are soft but have no color.
  3. Add the lamb and beef and cook breaking apart the meat with a wooden spoon for 5 minutes or until the meat is cooked through and no longer pink.
  4. Stir the garlic, chili paste, red pepper flakes, and tomato paste into the meat mixture. Cook the tomato paste stirring often for 2 minutes.
  5. Add the milk. Bring to a simmer and cook for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally until the milk is almost entirely evaporated.
  6. Add the wine, tomatoes, bay leaf, parmesan rind and remaining salt. Bring to a simmer and reduce the heat to low to just maintain a gentle simmer. Simmer the sauce for 1 ½ to 2 hours, stirring occasionally to prevent sticking. Use several folded paper towels to skim some of the oil from the surface.
  7. Discard the bay leaf and parm rind.
  8. Spoon the bolognese over fusilli or creamy polenta reserving any extra to serve on the side. Serve with additional parmesan and a drizzle of olive oil, if desired.

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Adapted from a recipe by Giada De Laurentiis

Garlic Mushroom Pasta

According to chef/author Suzy Karadheh, this is hands-down the BEST mushroom pasta recipe without cream. Rich and velvety with loads of mushrooms, garlic, shallots, a little parmesan, and a lighter silky-smooth sauce.

An easy recipe, it has two main components: the pasta and the mushroom sauce. Once you cook the pasta and sauté the mushrooms, everything will come together with a light sauce in one pan.

A typical pasta with mushrooms usually involves a heavy cream-based sauce that you would likely cook separately and then spoon over the pasta. Making a hearty garlic mushroom pasta without cream or too much butter is fairly simple. The science behind this is using a little of the starchy pasta water.

Walnuts were in the original list of ingredients, but you know how The Hubs detests those little nuggets, claiming they taste like soap. I personally love them, but to keep the peace they went by the wayside. And the dish didn’t seem to suffer without them!

Garlic Mushroom Pasta

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

  • 8 oz. dry pasta, such as orecchiette, campanelle or farfalle
  • Kosher salt
  • ⅓ cup extra virgin olive
  • 1 Tbsp. butter
  • 2 shallots, minced
  • 5 garlic cloves, minced
  • 8 oz. cremini mushrooms, sliced
  • 8 oz. white mushrooms, sliced
  • 8 oz. portabella mushrooms, roughly chopped
  • Black pepper
  • 1 tsp. rosemary
  • 3 Tbsp. of tomato paste
  • ¼ cup dry red wine
  • ½ cup of grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
  • ½ cup packed parsley, chopped
  • Red pepper flakes to taste, optional

Directions

  1. Cook the pasta to al dente in boiling salted water according to box instructions. Keep 1 cup of the pasta cooking water then drain the pasta.
  2. In a large skillet, heat the olive and butter over medium-high heat, add the shallots and garlic and cook, tossing regularly for 2 to 3 minutes (manage the heat so that the garlic does not burn).
  3. Add all the mushrooms and toss them around in the pan for a couple of minutes, adding another drizzle of extra virgin olive oil. Season with a good pinch of kosher salt, black pepper and the rosemary. Cook the mushrooms for about 7 to 10 minutes, tossing occasionally, until they turn color and release their juices.
  4. Add the tomato paste, wine and about ½ to ¾ cup of the pasta cooking water. Cook over medium heat for about 4 to 5 minutes (this becomes your mushroom pasta sauce).
  5. Add the cooked pasta to the mushroom sauce. Toss to combine. If needed add a little bit more of the pasta cooking water.
  6. Stir in Parmesan cheese and finish with a sprinkle of parsley and red pepper flakes. Serve immediately.

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Adapted from a recipe by Suzy Karadheh

Orzo with Shrimp: Two Recipes

Does a Mediterranean diet appeal to you? Then these two recipes might be worth a try. The first from Cook’s Country, Orzo with Shrimp, Feta and Lemon dish will grab your attention. Cooking the orzo pilaf-style gives it extra flavor and allows you to control the slightly creamy consistency.

To keep this meatless, use seafood/shellfish stock as opposed to chicken broth. Also, if the broth you use is on the bland side, use 4 cups of the stock and omit the water. If, like our homemade shellfish stock, it is intense, dilute it with two cups of water.

Adjust the amounts of olives and feta to suit your own preferences. One version of the recipe indicated only a half cup of Kalamatas and only 2 ounces of feta, while the list below indicates double of each.

Because we cooked our meal in a 10-inch-wide nonstick pan, the shrimp took an extra two minutes to become opaque. Keep that in mind if using less than a 12-inch skillet.

Orzo with Shrimp, Feta and Lemon

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

  • 1 Tbsp. grated lemon zest, plus 1 Tbsp. juice
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 ½ lbs. extra-large shrimp (21 to 25 per pound), peeled and deveined
  • 2 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil, plus extra for drizzling
  • 1 onion, chopped fine
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 cups orzo
  • 2 cups seafood (or chicken) broth
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 cup pitted Kalamata olives, chopped coarse
  • 4 oz. feta cheese, crumbled (1 cup)
  • Fresh parsley, for garnish

Directions

  1. Mix lemon zest, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper together. Pat shrimp dry with paper towels and toss with lemon-salt mixture to coat; set aside.
  2. Heat 1 tablespoon oil in 12-inch nonstick skillet over medium-high heat until just smoking. Add onion and cook until softened, about 4 minutes.
  3. Stir in garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds.
  4. Stir in orzo and cook, stirring frequently, until orzo is coated with oil and lightly browned, about 4 minutes.
  5. Add broth and water, bring to boil, and cook, uncovered, until orzo is al dente, about 6 minutes.
  6. Stir in olives, 1/2 cup feta, and lemon juice. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  7. Reduce heat to medium-low, nestle shrimp into orzo, cover, and cook until shrimp are pink and cooked through, about 5 minutes.
  8. Sprinkle remaining 1/2 cup feta over top and drizzle with extra oil. Serve.

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The second recipe, Baked Shrimp and Orzo with Feta and Tomatoes, is another Mediterranean-inspired shrimp dish similar to the Orzo with Shrimp, Feta and Lemon above, however this version gets started on the cooktop and then baked in the oven. It only calls for 1 pound of shrimp but we had 1 1⁄2 pounds and decided to use it all. The 12-inch skillet was brimming full. Our other change was incorporating homemade shellfish stock for the chicken broth.

To build in plenty of Mediterranean flavor, start by sautéing chopped onion and red bell pepper, to soften them before adding in minced garlic and oregano. To guarantee perfectly cooked shrimp and pasta, sauté the orzo in the aromatics to unlock its toasty notes. The crumbled saffron threads, though not traditional, introduce a sunny hue and warm, complex flavor.

Chicken (or shellfish) broth and the drained juice from a can of diced tomatoes are then stirred in; as the orzo cooks to al dente, its releases starch (similar to a risotto) creating a sauce with a subtly creamy texture. To prevent the shrimp from overcooking, stir them right into the orzo, along with the reserved tomatoes and frozen peas, and transfer the skillet to the oven to cook through gently. A sprinkling of feta before baking reinforces the dish’s Greek flavors and promises an appealing browned, cheesy crust.

Make sure that the orzo is al dente, or slightly firm to the bite; otherwise it may overcook in the oven. If using smaller or larger shrimp, the cooking times may vary accordingly. You can leave the shrimp tails on, if desired. The small amount of saffron makes a big difference to the flavor and look of the dish, so be sure to include it. You will need a 12-inch oven-safe nonstick skillet for this recipe.

Baked Shrimp and Orzo with Feta and Tomatoes

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

  • 1 lb. extra-large shrimp (21 to 25 per pound), peeled, deveined, and tails removed
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 red onion, chopped fine
  • 1 red bell pepper, stemmed, seeded, and cut into ½-inch pieces
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 tsp. minced fresh oregano or ½ teaspoon dried
  • 2 cups (12 oz.) orzo
  • Pinch saffron threads, crumbled
  • 3 cups chicken or shellfish broth
  • 1 (14.5-oz.) can diced tomatoes, drained with juice reserved
  • ½ cup frozen peas
  • 3 oz. feta cheese, crumbled (¾ cup)
  • 2 scallions, sliced thin
  • Lemon wedges

Directions

  1. Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 375 degrees. Pat shrimp dry with paper towels and season with salt and pepper; cover and refrigerate until needed.
  2. Heat oil in 12-inch oven-safe nonstick skillet over medium heat until shimmering. Add onion and bell pepper and cook until vegetables are softened, 5 to 7 minutes. Stir in garlic and oregano and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Stir in orzo and saffron and cook, stirring often, until orzo is lightly browned, about 4 minutes.
  3. Stir in broth and reserved tomato juice, bring to simmer, and cook, stirring occasionally, until orzo is al dente, 10 to 12 minutes.
  4. Stir in shrimp, tomatoes, and peas, then sprinkle feta evenly over top. Transfer skillet to oven and bake until shrimp are cooked through and feta is lightly browned, about 20 minutes.
  5. Remove skillet from oven (skillet handle will be hot). Sprinkle scallions over top and serve with lemon wedges.

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Adapted from a recipe from More Mediterranean by America’s Test Kitchen

Pescatarian Pantry Pasta

For this Spaghetti al Tonno pasta dish, it uses two jars of olive oil–packed tuna and a small amount of canned whole tomatoes, crushed by hand to produce small, supple pieces. Lots of garlic, some cooked in olive oil and the rest simply warmed through, contribute potent flavor to the tomato sauce, along with red pepper flakes for heat and anchovies for a briny backbone.

To ensure that the tuna stays moist and silky, stir it into slightly underdone spaghetti along with the tomato mixture off the heat and simply let it warm through. This not only gently warms the fish through so that it holds its moisture, but also hedges against mushy spaghetti.

Spaghetti or linguine are preferred for this dish (we used whole wheat pasta), but short or tubular shapes such as penne, fusilli, farfalle, ziti, or rigatoni also work. Likewise, oil-packed tuna is recommended, but if you happen to have water-packed tuna instead, don’t let that stop you. For a spicier dish, use the full ½ teaspoon of red pepper flakes.

The tuna brand we buy is Tonnino. With rich flavor and silky, thick‑cut yellowfin fillets, it is a step above most brands. Yes, it costs a few extra dollars, but it yields pasta al tonno that’s posh enough for company, and can bring a luxurious touch to any weeknight meal. And aren’t you worth at least a few extra bucks?

*Now here’s the thing. If you are using the more expensive jarred tuna, why would you discard the oil it is packed in? Use that oil and add some EVOO if needed to make the 1/2 cup called for in the recipe.

Spaghetti al Tonno

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

  • 2 5- to 7-oz. jars/cans olive oil-packed tuna, drained* (see head note)
  • 1 Tbsp. lemon juice
  • 1 tsp. table salt, divided, plus salt for cooking pasta
  • ½ tsp. pepper, divided
  • ½ cup extra-virgin olive oil*, divided, plus extra for drizzling
  • 1½ Tbsp. minced garlic, divided
  • 3 anchovy fillets, rinsed, patted dry, and minced
  • ¼–½ tsp. red pepper flakes
  • 1 14.5-oz. can whole peeled tomatoes, drained with juice reserved, crushed by hand to small pieces
  • 12 oz. spaghetti
  • 6 Tbsp. chopped fresh parsley, divided

Directions

  1. Bring 4 quarts water to boil in large pot. While water comes to boil, gently stir tuna, lemon juice, ¼ teaspoon salt, and ¼ teaspoon pepper together in small bowl.
  2. Heat 2 tablespoons oil, 1 tablespoon garlic, anchovies, and pepper flakes in saucepan over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until oil sizzles gently and anchovies break down, 1½ to 2 minutes.
  3. Stir in tomatoes and their juice and ½ teaspoon salt. Increase heat to high and bring to strong simmer. Adjust heat to maintain gentle simmer and cook, stirring occasionally, until slightly thickened, 6 to 7 minutes. Cover and keep warm over low heat.
  4. Add spaghetti and 1 tablespoon salt to boiling water. Cook, stirring often, until barely al dente. Reserve ½ cup cooking water. Drain pasta and return it to pot.
  5. Off heat, add tomato mixture, remaining ¼ teaspoon salt, remaining ¼ teaspoon pepper, and remaining 1½ teaspoons garlic and toss until pasta is well coated. Add tuna mixture and toss gently. Cover and set aside for 3 minutes so flavors can meld and pasta can finish cooking.
  6. Adjust consistency of sauce with reserved cooking water as needed.
  7. Add ¼ cup parsley and remaining 2 tablespoons oil and toss to combine. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  8. Distribute among pasta bowls. Drizzle each portion with extra oil, if using. Sprinkle with remaining 2 tablespoons parsley and serve.

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Recipe from Cook’s Illustrated

Linguine with Artichokes, Lemon and Pancetta

Milk Street got the idea for this pasta dish from “Pasta Grannies” by Vicky Bennison. The unusual sauce is made by blitzing artichokes in a blender. Canned artichokes are used instead of fresh for ease, but first they are browned in a mixture of olive oil and rendered in pancetta fat to build flavor in the sauce. The crisp bits of pancetta lend texture and saltiness, lemon adds brightness and balance, and a generous amount of Parmesan ties all the elements together. Voila!

With a minimum of ingredients, this lovely pasta dish can be served as a first course or as the main entrée. Instead of canned, we used frozen artichokes—just make sure to really dry those chokes, otherwise they won’t brown. Using a wider pan would accelerate the browning process. In fact, you may want more of them for the topping!

Don’t use marinated artichokes for this recipe, as their flavor is too sharp and tangy. After draining the artichokes, make sure to pat them dry so they caramelize when added to the pot. Don’t forget to reserve about 2 cups of the pasta water before draining the noodles. You will need it for pureeing the artichokes and building the sauce. And we used every drop of those 2 cups, so perhaps save a bit more…

One other note. Instead of letting the cooked pasta sit in a colander while you make the rest of the dish, use two pots. As the linguine boils, cook the pancetta and then the artichokes in another. This way, everything comes together at one time and is guaranteed to be piping hot.

Linguine with Artichokes, Lemon and Pancetta

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

  • 1 lb. linguine OR fettuccine
  • Kosher salt and ground black pepper
  • 1 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil, plus more to serve
  • 4 oz. pancetta, chopped
  • 14 oz. can artichoke hearts, drained, patted dry and quartered if whole
  • 1 Tbsp. grated lemon zest, plus 3 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 2 oz. Parmesan cheese, finely grated (1 cup), plus more to serve
  • ½ cup finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley OR chives OR basil

Directions

  1. In a large pot, bring 4 quarts water to a boil. Stir in the pasta and 1 tablespoon salt, then cook, stirring occasionally, until al dente. Reserve about 2 cups of the cooking water, then drain.
  2. In the same pot over medium, heat the oil until shimmering. Add the pancetta and cook, stirring, until crisp, 3 to 4 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer to a small plate; set aside.
  3. Add the artichokes to the pot and cook, stirring, until beginning to brown at the edges, 3 to 4 minutes. Remove the pot from the heat. Transfer half the artichokes to a small bowl; add the remainder to a blender. Reserve the pot.
  4. To the artichokes in the blender, add ½ cup cooking water, the lemon juice and ¼ teaspoon each salt and pepper; puree until smooth. In the same pot over medium, bring 1 cup of the remaining cooking water to a simmer, scraping up any browned bits.
  5. Add the artichoke puree, the pasta, lemon zest, pancetta, Parmesan and parsley. Cook, tossing to combine, just until the noodles are heated through, 1 to 2 minutes; add more reserved water as needed to make a silky sauce. Taste and season with salt and pepper.
  6. Transfer to a serving bowl and top with the reserved artichokes, along with additional oil and Parmesan.

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Recipe by Rose Hattabaugh for Milk Street

Jalapeño-Turkey Meatballs and Spaghetti

Intrigued with this odd combination found in a recent Fine Cooking Magazine, we were pleasantly surprised at the results. Despite two large jalapeños and some chili powder, it was only slightly spicy. Of course, if you did want to ramp up the heat, don’t discard the jalapeño seeds.

Our meatballs did stick to the foil, so we suggest using parchment or coating the baking sheet with an oil spray such as Pam. Also, to thicken the sauce, we added about 2/3 of the shredded Gouda to the cream cheese/milk mixture, then sprinkled the remainder on top.

If you have leftovers, top with some milk and/or olive oil to add moisture before popping in the microwave.

Jalapeño-Turkey Meatballs and Spaghetti

  • Servings: 6-8
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

  • 2 egg whites, lightly beaten 
  • 2 Tbsp.s olive oil 
  • 1 Tbsp. milk
  • 2 tsp. chili powder
  • 2 lbs. uncooked ground turkey breast or ground turkey
  • ⅓ cup finely chopped onion 
  • ¼ cup fine dry bread crumbs
  • 2 jalapeño peppers, seeded and minced
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1 14-16 oz. package dried multigrain, whole wheat or regular spaghetti
  • 6 oz. packages cream cheese
  • 2 cups milk
  • Salt (optional)
  • 4 oz. Gouda cheese, shredded
  • Fresh cilantro

Directions

  1. Heat oven to 375 degrees F. In bowl stir together egg whites, oil, milk, chili powder, 1 tsp. black pepper, and 1/2 tsp. salt.
  2. In large bowl combine turkey, onion, bread crumbs, jalapeños, and chopped cilantro. Fold egg white mixture into turkey mixture; mix well. Shape turkey mixture in 1-1/2-inch balls. Place on a foil-lined 15x10x1-inch baking pan. Bake 20 minutes or until no longer pink (170 degrees F).
  3. Meanwhile, cook spaghetti, with 1 tablespoon salt added to water, according to package directions. Drain; keep warm.
  4. In same pan used for pasta melt cream cheese over low heat. Add milk. Cook, stirring, until bubbly. Return spaghetti to pan; toss to coat with cream cheese mixture.
  5. Serve spaghetti with meatballs, cheese, and cilantro.

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Recipe from Fine Cooking

Fusilli with Cherry Tomato Sauce and Fresh Sage

As we were eating this lovely pasta dish, The Hubs exclaimed how much he liked it. I responded “And the list of ingredients was short for such depth of flavor and it was simple to boot!” Then he looked at the Milk Street recipe print out and saw that this adaptation hailed from Yotam Ottolenghi’s cookbook titled “Simple”—how serendipitous!

That being said, I cut back the pasta from 12 to 8 ounces because it did not seem that the amount of sauce would be sufficient for the larger quantity. With gentle simmering and a bit of water to facilitate cooking, cherry or grape tomatoes are transformed into a bold pasta sauce. To ratchet up the flavor, herbs, red pepper flakes and pecorino Romano are added. Try to get a block of the cheese to create shavings as opposed to the already grated variety.

Fusilli was our choice, but spaghetti or bucatini (a tubular pasta resembling thick spaghetti) also pairs particularly well with the sauce. Be aware that you do not want to simmer the tomatoes until there is no liquid remaining. Some moisture is needed for the sauce to cling to the pasta.

Fusilli with Cherry Tomato Sauce and Fresh Sage

  • Servings: 2-3
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

  • ⅓ cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus more to serve
  • 4 medium garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • ¼ tsp. red pepper flakes
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 lb. cherry or grape tomatoes, halved
  • ½ tsp. white sugar
  • Kosher salt
  • 1 cup water
  • 2 Tbsp. chopped fresh sage, divided
  • 8 oz. fusilli, bucatini pasta or spaghetti, cooked according to package directions
  • ¾ tsp. smoked paprika
  • Shaved pecorino Romano, to serve

Directions

  1. Add the oil to a 12-inch skillet. Turn the heat to medium-high, and add the garlic, pepper flakes and bay, then cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 1 minute.
  2. Add the tomatoes, sugar, 1 teaspoon salt and 1 cup water. Bring to a simmer and cook, stirring occasionally, until the tomatoes begin to break down, about 4 minutes.
  3. Reduce to medium-low and cook, uncovered and stirring occasionally and adjusting the heat as needed to maintain a steady simmer, until the tomatoes have fully broken down and the sauce is thick enough that a spatula drawn through it leaves a trail, 40 to 50 minutes.
  4. Remove from the heat and remove and discard the bay. Stir in 1 tablespoon of sage and the smoked paprika, then cover to keep warm.
  5. When the sauce is almost ready, in a large pot, bring 4 quarts water to a boil. Add 2 tablespoons salt and the fusilli, then cook, stirring occasionally, until al dente.
  6. Drain the pasta, then return to the pot. Add the sauce and toss until well combined. Transfer to a serving bowl. Sprinkle with the remaining 1 tablespoon sage and shaved pecorino, then drizzle with additional oil.

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Loosely adapted from a recipe by Milk Street

Another One-Pot(?) Wonder

Orecchiette Puttanesca with Tuna and White Beans is a hearty pasta dinner with a bold, briny puttanesca sauce that finds delicious partners in creamy white beans and flaked tuna. And the fact that it is a one-pot wonder, well, that is a bit of a misnomer.

In fact, it is anything but. Yes, the meal itself is made in one pot but you’ll need a couple of strainers for the white beans and capers, and possibly the the tuna if you want to drain and save the oil (which we did) and use that instead of additional olive oil. Plus, how about a bowl to hand-crush the whole tomatoes? And measuring cups to reserve the pasta water, and… well, you get my drift.

But let’s run with the concept. First boil the pasta, drain it, then use the same pot to make the sauce. Orecchiette pasta is preferred because the small saucer shapes catch bits of the olives, capers and tuna. Originally, the consistency of the sauce is kept on the “soupy” side; but stir in additional pasta water at the end to adjust the consistency to suit your taste.

As far as the amount of canned tuna in oil, only 5 ounces for an entire pound of pasta!?! Are you nuts? I used two 7-ounce cans, nearly three times the amount called for, and it was by no means overwhelming.

It’s important to rinse and drain the beans. If their starchy liquid makes it into the pot, it will turn the sauce thick and heavy. Don’t worry about removing the garlic cloves (do what?!) after they’re lightly browned. They’ll soften and break apart slightly as the sauce cooks.

Even if you do use more than one pot, the dish is well worth it and we loved the fact that there was leftovers for a couple of more meals.

Orecchiette Puttanesca with Tuna and White Beans

  • Servings: 5-8
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

  • 1 lb. orecchiette pasta
  • Kosher salt and ground black pepper
  • 1 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil, plus more to serve
  • 2 medium garlic cloves, smashed and peeled
  • 1 tsp. red pepper flakes
  • 1 cup pitted green or black olives (or a combination), roughly chopped
  • ¼ cup drained capers, rinsed and patted dry
  • 28 oz. can whole peeled tomatoes, crushed by hand
  • 15½ oz. can cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
  • 5 oz. can olive oil-packed tuna, drained and flaked (we used 2, 7-oz. cans)
  • ⅓ cup lightly packed fresh flat-leaf parsley, roughly chopped

Directions

  1. In a large pot, bring 4 quarts water to a boil. Stir in the pasta and 1 tablespoon salt, then cook, stirring occasionally, until just shy of al dente. Reserve 2½ cups of the cooking water, then drain.
  2. In the same pot over medium, combine the oil and garlic. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the garlic is light golden brown, 2 to 4 minutes.
  3. Add the pepper flakes, olives and capers. Increase to medium-high and cook, stirring, until the capers begin to brown, about 1 minute.
  4. Add the tomatoes with juices along with the beans, then cook, stirring occasionally, until the mixture is slightly thickened, 3 to 4 minutes.
  5. Stir in 1½ cups of the reserved water and bring to a simmer over medium-high. Add the orecchiette and cook, stirring occasionally, until the pasta is al dente, 2 to 4 minutes; add more reserved water if needed to thin.
  6. Taste and season with salt and black pepper. Off heat, stir in the tuna and parsley. Serve drizzled with additional oil.

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Adapted by Courtney Hill for Milk Street Community

Pasta e Piselli (Pasta and Peas)

Recipe adapted from one found in a recent Cook’s Illustrated magazine, the traditional Italian dish Pasta e Piselli, like its better-known cousins pasta e fagioli and pasta e ceci, combines peas with small pasta to form a hearty soup; all of which come together in one pot. Always a plus for a weeknight meal.

The pasta is cooked in a broth flavored with sautéed onion and savory pancetta, simultaneously infusing the pasta with savoriness and thickening the rich, silky broth. As well as using homemade chicken stock, we doubled the pancetta to four ounces, both of which provided more depth of flavor.

At the end of the cooking process, frozen petite peas (sweeter and less starchy than fresh peas), are added—in our case it was 2 cups as opposed to 1 1⁄2 cups because that was the contents of the bag. Immediately afterward, the pot is taken off the heat to preserve their tenderness and bright green color.

A sprinkle of Pecorino Romano contributes richness and tangy depth. Last-minute additions of minced herbs and extra-virgin olive oil punch up the aroma and flavors of the dish. You can substitute small pasta such as tubetti, ditali, elbow macaroni, or small shells for the ditalini, but do so by weight, not by volume.

TIP: For a vegetarian version, omit the pancetta, substitute vegetable broth for the chicken broth, and add an extra 2 tablespoons of grated cheese. Pecorino Romano adds a welcome sharpness. Cook’s Illustrated does not recommend substituting Parmesan in this recipe.

Pasta e Piselli (Pasta and Peas)

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

  • 2 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil, plus extra for drizzling
  • 1 onion, chopped fine
  • 4 oz. pancetta, chopped fine
  • ½ tsp. table salt
  • ½ tsp. pepper
  • 2½ cups chicken broth, preferably homemade
  • 2½ cups water
  • 7½ oz. (1½ cups) ditalini
  • 1½ to 2 cups frozen petite peas
  • ⅓ cup minced fresh parsley
  • ¼ cup grated Pecorino Romano cheese, plus extra for serving
  • 2 Tbsp. minced fresh mint

Directions

  1. Heat oil in large saucepan over medium heat until shimmering. Add onion, pancetta, salt, and pepper and cook, stirring frequently, until onion is softened, 7 to 10 minutes.
  2. Add broth and water and bring to boil over high heat. Stir in pasta and cook, stirring frequently, until liquid returns to boil. Reduce heat to maintain simmer; cover; and cook until pasta is al dente, 8 to 10 minutes.
  3. Stir in peas and remove saucepan from heat. Stir in parsley, Pecorino, and mint. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve, drizzling with extra oil and passing extra Pecorino separately.

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Adapted from a recipe by Cook’s Illustrated

Rotini with Pistachio, Ricotta and Herb Pesto

Pistachios are a borderline addiction for me (although I’m usually not picky when it comes to nuts of any sort). In fact, whenever we stop at Costco’s, it’s pretty likely we’ll pick up a 1.5-pound bag of the shelled, roasted/salted variety.

Did you know Sicily is famous for its pistachios, as well as for ricotta cheese? In this recipe, Milk Street blends the two, along with fresh basil and chives, to create a simple pesto to toss with al dente pasta.

There’s no need to grate the Parmesan—simply cut it into chunks and toss the pieces into the blender. The pesto is good on a wide variety of pasta shapes, but the hollow centers and surface ridges of rigatoni do a particularly good job of gripping the rich, creamy sauce. We used rotini whose spirals also made an easy job of grasping that sauce.

Milk Street advises NOT to use toasted or roasted pistachios because they claim, in this case, raw pistachios are best. Their bright color and natural sweetness lend a vibrant, full-flavored pesto. Well, as I mentioned, we had the roasted salted pistachios and went ahead and used them.

Now don’t forget to reserve some of the pasta water before draining the pasta. You’ll need some of the starchy seasoned liquid to thin out the pesto.

Rigatoni with Pistachio, Ricotta and Herb Pesto

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

  • 1 lb. rigatoni or rotini
  • Kosher salt and ground black pepper
  • 1⅓ cups whole-milk ricotta cheese
  • ¾ cup raw pistachios, plus 2 Tbsp. finely chopped pistachios
  • 2 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil, plus more to serve
  • 2 oz. Parmesan cheese (without rind), cut into 4 or 5 pieces
  • ½ cup lightly packed fresh basil
  • ¼ cup roughly chopped fresh chives

Directions

  1. In a large pot, bring 4 quarts water to boil. Stir in the pasta and 1 tablespoon salt, then cook, stirring occasionally, until al dente. Reserve 1½ cups of the cooking water, then drain the pasta and return it to the pot.
  2. In a blender, combine the ricotta, the whole pistachios, oil, Parmesan, basil, chives, ½ teaspoon salt and ¼ teaspoon pepper. Add 1 cup of the reserved pasta water and blend until creamy, about 1 minute; the pesto should have a consistency similar to yogurt.
  3. Pour the pesto over the pasta and stir, adding more reserved pasta water as needed so the sauce coats the noodles. Taste and season with salt and pepper. Serve drizzled with additional oil and sprinkled with the chopped pistachios.

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Adapted from a recipe from Rebecca Richmond for Milk Street

Pasta Alla Genovese

Pasta without tomato sauce or garlic?? According to Milk Street where we found this dish, they say don’t be fooled by the name. Ironically, it is not pasta with Genovese basil pesto, nor is it from Genoa. Rather, the sauce is an onion-based ragù and a classic in the Neapolitan culinary repertoire.

Some versions of pasta alla genovese are meat-free, others include a small amount of beef or veal as a flavoring, but never as a key ingredient. Taking a cue from A Cucina Ra Casa Mia in Naples, this recipe uses boneless beef short ribs. The beef is combined, cut into chunks, with carrots, celery and a mountain of onions in a Dutch oven. The pot goes into the oven, where the heat is slow and steady, until the meat is rendered tender enough to fall apart when prodded with a fork.

TIPS: Slicing 3 pounds of onions by hand is a good opportunity to hone your knife skills, but if you prefer, they can be sliced on a mandoline. The ragù can be made up to three days ahead, then reheated gently before tossing with just-cooked pasta.

Don’t be concerned that there’s so little liquid in the pot after adding the onions and beef. Warmed by the oven heat, the vegetables and meat will release moisture that becomes the braising liquid in the covered pot. But for the second half of cooking, please don’t forget to uncover the pot. This allows some of that liquid to evaporate for a richer, more concentrated flavor and consistency.

Pasta Alla Genovese

  • Servings: 6-8
  • Difficulty: moderate
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Ingredients

  • 2 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil, plus more to serve
  • 4 oz. pancetta, chopped
  • 2 medium carrots, peeled and finely chopped
  • 2 medium celery stalks, chopped
  • 1 cup dry white wine
  • 3 lbs. yellow onions, halved and sliced
  • 1½ lbs. boneless beef short ribs, trimmed and cut into 2-inch chunks
  • ¾ tsp. red pepper flakes
  • 2-inch piece Parmesan rind, plus 2 oz. Parmesan cheese, finely grated (1 cup)
  • Kosher salt and ground black pepper
  • 1 lb. pasta such as rigatoni or penne rigati
  • ½ cup finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

Directions

  1. Heat the oven to 325°F with the rack in the lower-middle position. In a large Dutch oven over medium, heat the oil until shimmering. Add the pancetta and cook, stirring occasionally, until lightly browned, about 3 minutes.
  2. Add the carrots and celery, then cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables begin to soften, 3 to 5 minutes.
  3. Add the wine and cook, scraping up any browned bits, until reduced by about half, about 3 minutes.
  4. Add the onions, beef, pepper flakes, Parmesan rind, ½ teaspoon salt and 1 teaspoon black pepper, then stir to combine. Cover, transfer to the oven and cook for 1½ hours.
  5. Remove the pot from the oven and stir. Return to the oven, uncovered, and cook until stewy and the meat falls apart when pressed with a fork, about another 1½ hours. Tilt the pot to pool the cooking liquid to one side, then use a wide spoon to skim off and discard as much fat as possible. Remove and discard the Parmesan rind. Cover and set aside while you cook the pasta.
  6. In a large pot, bring 4 quarts water to a boil. Stir in the pasta and 1 tablespoon salt, then cook, stirring occasionally, until al dente. Reserve about 1 cup of the cooking water, then drain the pasta.
  7. Add the pasta to the Dutch oven and toss to combine with the sauce, adding about ½ cup of reserved pasta water. Add the parsley and half the grated Parmesan, then toss again; add more reserved water as needed so the sauce coats the pasta. Taste and season with salt and black pepper. Serve with the remaining Parmesan.

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Recipe by  Rose Hattabaugh for Milk Street

Pasta Alla Norma

The name of the dish is said to originate from the apocryphal exclamation by the Italian writer Nino Martoglio who, upon tasting the dish, exclaimed “This is a real ‘Norma‘!”, comparing it with the exceptional perfection of the Vincenzo Bellini opera Norma.

We obtained the recipe from Milk Street, but changed the penne pasta to gemelli, which gives a twist to the texture and captures more of the sauce in its curves. Feel free to use whatever pasta suits your fancy.

The eggplant is typically fried before being added to the sauce, but here it is roasted to concentrate the flavors and condense the porous texture. The eggplant is in the oven for about 30 minutes unattended, except for one toss; so use that time to prep the other ingredients, cook the pasta and simmer the tomatoes to make the sauce.

If you’ve never had ricotta salata, it is a firm cheese with a milky, salty flavor. Do not substitute fresh ricotta; a mild feta is a more appropriate substitute.

Don’t forget to reserve about ½ cup of the pasta cooking water before draining. You’ll need the starchy, salted liquid to help bring together the eggplant, pasta and sauce during the final simmer.

Pasta Alla Norma

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

  • 1 lb. eggplant, peeled and cut into ¾-inch cubes
  • Kosher salt
  • 6 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • 12 oz. penne rigate or mezze rigatoni pasta
  • 8 large garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • ½ tsp. red pepper flakes
  • 2 pints grape tomatoes
  • 2 Tbsp. white balsamic vinegar
  • ½ cup lightly packed fresh basil leaves, roughly chopped
  • 2 oz. ricotta salata, shredded

Directions

  1. Heat the oven to 475°F with a rack in the upper-middle position. Line a rimmed baking sheet with kitchen parchment.
  2. In a large bowl, toss the eggplant with 1½ teaspoons salt and 4 tablespoons of the oil. Spread in a single layer on the prepared baking sheet and roast until browned and tender, 30 to 35 minutes, stirring once.
  3. Meanwhile, in a large pot, bring 4 quarts of water to a boil. Stir in the pasta and 2 tablespoons salt; cook until the pasta is al dente. Reserve about ½ cup of the cooking water, then drain the pasta.
  4. While the eggplant roasts and the water heats, in a 12-inch skillet over medium-high, heat the remaining 2 tablespoons oil until shimmering. Add the garlic and pepper flakes and cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 30 seconds.
  5. Add the tomatoes and 1½ teaspoons salt, then cover and cook, occasionally shaking the pan, until the tomatoes begin to release their liquid, about 1 minute.
  6. Stir in the vinegar, then use the back of a large spoon to crush the tomatoes. Cover, reduce to medium and cook, stirring, until the mixture breaks down into a lightly thickened sauce, 8 to 9 minutes.
  7. Add the drained pasta, eggplant and ¼ cup of the reserved pasta water to the tomatoes. Cook over medium, stirring constantly, until the sauce begins to cling to the pasta, 2 to 3 minutes.
  8. Taste and season with salt. Stir in half of the basil and transfer to a serving bowl. Sprinkle with the remaining basil and the ricotta salata.

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Recipe adapted from Milk Street