Today, I wanted to share with you my favorite of the trio, my Homemade Pasta with Lemon Ricotta and Squid Ink Sauces. Yes, you heard that right! Two sauces! I had a dish in Catania where ricotta was paired with squid ink, and this inspired the sauce pairing. I wanted to elevate a humble pasta dish with homemade pasta and the aesthetic experience of mixing ivory and ebony. There is a subtle warmth to the color of a ricotta cream, and a bit of lemon juice and zest brings out the luxurious creaminess of ricotta. I served the pasta mixed with this sauce. On the side, I served a gorgeously complex sauce of aromatics fried and blended in with squid ink, cooked with pieces of squid. This black, velvety sauce, once poured onto the pasta with Ricotta cream, creates an instant contrast both visually and on your palette. I am so proud of this dish I can’t even explain how wonderfully it worked out.
This past weekend, Nico and I had a little feast, just the two of us… it was a pretty healthy feast! I bought a lot of beautiful cuts of fish during my last visit to Trader Joe’s and wanted to give swordfish steaks a try.
I decided to treat them to my favorite “fish solution.” I seared the bad boys in butter and let them finish cooking in the oven. Then, I scraped up the browned bits with a bit more butter, capers, and a squeeze of lemon juice. Since my lovely friends Keith and Jackeline gave us an herb planter, and the basil is turning into a beast, so I decided to throw in some sliced basil instead of the traditional parsley. It was delicious.
When I first started reading about Catalan food, this is the dish that I kept seeing at the top of every “you must try this” dish. This easy and rustic dish is very satisfying. It works beautifully on its own, or as a pairing to a series of other dishes, or perhaps a platter of roast meats. I chose some of my favorite vegetables to roast, but, you can change up the vegetables by season. Perhaps some asparagus and summer squash in the warmer months. Or leeks in the winter? The best part, you can make this ahead and serve it chilled! This is an amazing quality for a dinner where you are preparing several dishes.
We wanted to have a beautiful and healthy meal to share, but I cannot let go of my need to impress all together, so I thought a lovely piece of fish prepared in a traditional and beautiful manner would be the perfect solution! En Papilotte sounds really fancy, doesn’t it? It really just means in paper. The technique is to wrap a piece of fish and any accompanying goodies in a piece of parchment and seal it so the fish steams in its little envelope as it bakes.
Today, I want to share with you my recipe for Roast Leg of Lamb. I love this recipe! It seemed like a perfect dish for our Domestic Union celebration, but with 50 guests, boy did we need a lot of it! This is one of the oldest recipes in my repertoire. I have made a version of this lamb for Thanksgiving and any other holiday when someone would buy me a lamb leg since I was in high school. It was inspired by my father. When we had a bit of money for meat in Belarus in the summer, we would take our lamb into the woods, start a fire and stab it all over and shove garlic in before baking it. My dad would walk around in the woods and find an evergreen tree with little berries, I think it was juniper. We would place that with the meat over the fire and allow it to roast. I wanted to incorporate the garlic and smoked herb flavor and add in some freshness by adding lemon juice and zest. Please do not overcook the lamb!
I was never a huge fan of turkey, so I generally prefer to make a big lamb roast. This year, I wanted to make a whole baby goat or lamb! My friend Anwar looked for one for me, and in the end sold me an entire half of a full grown goat, which made a beautiful roast!
Risotto is a mainstay in the fall for me. I have loved it since my friend Kikki in Brooklyn made some for me with ingredients she brought back from her second home in Bormio. Every time I make it, I think about her bringing the big hunk of Parmesan out of its packaging and grating it liberally into the dish.
All versions of burnt eggplant are delicious, I am obsessed! I like to roast mine directly over the flame of my stove for that perfect smoky flavor. If you don’t have a gas stove burner, try slicing yours in half and roasting them under the broiler.
I originally created this recipe for our Jerusalem Dinner last year (find all of our Jerusalem recipes in Chez Nous: Communal Dinners). We originally served it with a buttery Malawach – a combination of flaky croissant and soft naan and paired it with a Tabboueleh and a homemade Hummus with a Lemon Parsley Sauce. I brought the recipe back for the book launch of my first cookbook Chez Nous: Communal Dinners this past Saturday. To make my life easier, we served it with some Buttered Naan which is incredibly easy to make.