Vodka Sauce

Vodka Sauce

altered from foodandwine.com


1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil

2 ounces pancetta, diced (optional)

3 garlic cloves, peeled

1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper

1/4 cup vodka

1 tablespoon tomato paste

8 San Marzano tomatoes

Pinch of sugar

2 basil sprigs

Salt and freshly ground pepper

1/4 cup heavy cream


 

Bring a large pot of water to a boil and set up a bowl of ice water. Boil San Marzanos for 3 minutes, then transfer to ice water. Remove when cool, and peel skins off. Mash tomato flesh with your hands, a potato masher, or blend with a food processor.

In a large saucepan, heat the oil. Sauté the pancetta (optional), garlic and crushed red pepper over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until golden, about 5 minutes. Deglaze with vodka. Add the tomato paste and cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Add the peeled and crushed tomatoes. Stir in the sugar and basil, season with salt and pepper and bring to a boil. Simmer the sauce over low heat, stirring occasionally, until it thickens and is reduced to 3 cups, about 30 minutes. Season again with salt and pepper. Discard the basil sprigs and garlic. Add heavy cream and simmer for 5 minutes.

Green Bean and Cherry Tomato Salad

Green Bean and Cherry Tomato Salad
From Deb Perelman’s smittenkitchen.com, who adapted it from “Chez Panisse Vegetables”

Serves 6

1 pound green beans, though if you can find a mix of green and yellow beans, it will be all the prettier
1 pound cherry tomatoes
1 large shallot
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
Salt and pepper
1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
Basil or other herb (optional)

Prepare the vegetables: Top and tail the beans and cut them into large segments. Parboil the beans in salted water until just tender, about four to five minutes. Drain and immediately spread them out to cool. Stem the cherry tomatoes and cut them in half.

Make the vinaigrette: Peel and mince the shallot and put it in a bowl with the vinegar and salt and pepper. Whisk in the olive oil. Taste and adjust the balance with more vinegar, oil, or salt, as needed. Toss the cherry tomatoes in with the vinaigrette; this can sit for a while. Do not add the green beans until just before serving or they will discolor from the acid in the vinaigrette. For variety, the salad can be garnished with basil or some other fresh herb such as parsley, chervil or hyssop.

Do ahead: Beans and vegetables can be prepared ahead of time. Simply toss with the dressing only at the last minute, as it can discolor the green beans after several hours.


 

Rice-Stuffed Tomatoes

Rice-Stuffed Tomatoes (Pomodori Ripieni di Riso)

just slightly altered from Deb Perelman’s smittenkitchen.com

2 to 3 tablespoons olive oil
Coarse or Kosher salt
6 tomatoes
Red pepper flakes, to taste

1 zucchini, diced

3 leaves spigariello or chard, de-stemmed and sliced into ribbons
1/4 medium or 1/2 small onion, finely chopped
1 garlic clove, minced
9 tablespoons arborio or another short-grained starchy rice
Few tablespoons chopped parsley, oregano or slivered basil (or mix thereof)
Handful breadcrumbs, if using (unless using gluten-free breadcrumbs, this will of course negate the dish’s gluten-free status)

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly coat an ovenproof baking dish with olive oil.

Prepare tomatoes: Cut the tops off the tomatoes and scoop out tomato juices, seeds and flesh into a non-reactive (i.e. just about anything but aluminum) bowl. I like to use a grapefruit knife to make the first cuts, then a spoon to remove the rest, but you can use anything you have around, being careful not to pierce the bottom of the tomatoes. Salt the cavities of the tomatoes and turn them upside down on a plate to drain.

Prepare reserve: Run scooped-out tomato flesh and juices through a food mill or pulse in a blender until coarsely pureed. Heat a large skillet over medium heat, then add 2 tablespoons olive oil, heating it too. Once hot, add zucchini, onion, garlic and red pepper flakes, cooking them together for 2 minutes, or until onion begins to soften. Add rice and cook them together for about 3 minutes, or until rice toasts a little. Add tomato puree and spigariello or chard and bring to a simmer, then reduce heat to medium-low. Season with 3/4 teaspoon salt, then cover skillet with a lid, and let simmer for 10 to 15 minutes, stirring occasionally, until rice is par-cooked. Adjust seasoning if needed.

Reassemble tomatoes: Stir fresh herbs into tomato-rice mixture. Arrange tomatoes right-side-up in baking pan then spoon mixture into tomatoes, filling them just 7/8 of the way to leave room for the rice to finish expanding. Coat with breadcrumbs that you can drizzle lightly with olive oil, if using, or you can replace the tomato lid on each (though, do not spend 10 minutes trying to match them back up, as I did last summer. It’s pointless.)

Bake: Uncovered for 30 minutes, until tomato walls are soft and the rice inside has finished cooking. Serve hot. Repeat again tomorrow.