Going out to eat on Valentine’s day is overrated and for amateurs, right…but who has the time to cook, especially when it happens to fall on a weeknight? Not me, but that’s why we celebrated on February 15th. Here’s a relatively simple meal that can be completed in about an hour.
For this recipe, I used Dave Lebovitz’s recipe. I PROMISE, making pasta is the easiest thing ever and it makes SUCH a difference from dried pasta!
Mix together the flour and semolina in the bowl of a stand mixer, or mix them up and create a mound on the counter top with a crater in the center. If using a stand mixer, add the eggs to the dough and mix them together with the paddle or dough hook until well mixed. On the counter top, crack the eggs into the center of the flour and semolina. Use your fingers to gradually draw the dry ingredients into the center, mixing them with the eggs. The dough will be hard to mix at first – a pastry scraper will help you draw it all together – but eventually it will come together and be relatively smooth.
Knead the dough with the heel of your hand for at least three minutes until the dough is very smooth. The dough should not feel sticky. If it sticks to your fingers, knead in a small amount of flour, just enough so your fingers come away clean when you pull them away. Wrap the dough and let it sit at room temperature for an hour.
(You can keep the dough for several hours at room temperature.)
Clams and White Bean Sauce
2 tbl (1/4 stick) unsalted butter
4 tbl olive oil, divided, plus more for drizzling
4 garlic cloves, chopped
1/2 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
1 28-oz. can whole peeled tomatoes
1 15 oz. can cannellini (white kidney) beans, rinsed
1 lb fresh fettucini
1 cup dry white wine
2 lb clams
1/4 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley
Heat butter and 2 tbl. oil in large heavy pot over medium-low heat. Add garlic and red pepper flakes and cook, stirring often, until beginning to brown, about 2 minutes. Add tomatoes with juices, crushing tomatoes lightly with your hands. Increase heat to medium-high. Cook, stirring often, until sauce thickens, 10-15 minutes.
Meanwhile, cook pasta in a large pot of salted, boiling water, stirring occasionally, until al dente. Drain pasta, reserving 1 1/2 cups pasta cooking liquid.
Add beans and wine to sauce. Cook, stirring often, until wine has almost evaporated, about 4 minutes. Add clams and 1/4 cup pasta cooking liquid. Cover; cook, stirring occasionally, until clams open, about 5 minutes (discard any that do not open).
Add pasta and 1/4 cup pasta cooking liquid to clams and stir to coat. Reduce heat to medium and continue stirring, adding more cooking liquid as needed, until sauce coats pasta. Divide among bowls. Drizzle with oil; garnish with parsley.
In my recent quest to make Friday Night Pizza more interesting than the usual “Raj’s Pizza,” comprised of red sauce, pepperoni and mozzarella (for the past six years!), I’m continually seeking out pies that will sway Raj towards variety. The latest, a Veal Meatball Pie, was amazing, but WAY too much work for anyone who works, has a life, hobbies, a dog that needs walking… The recipe is comprised of FIVE separate recipes (which I had to break down between two days) if you count making the pizza dough, sauce, meatballs, caramelizing the onions, and compiling the pizza…but for those of you with lots of time and motivation, knock yourselves out. Raj says this is a keeper–but then it would have to be relegated to Saturday Night Pizza–he won’t be seeing the likes of this pie anytime soon.
Veal Meatball Pie
1 ball of dough–I used is the same one I always use–my whole wheat standard (see Raj’s Friday Night Pizza)
1/4 cup Basic Tomato Sauce (see below)
About 2 ounces fresh Mozzarella, pulled into 5 clumps
Scant 1 tbl Caramelized onions (Oh my God–all that work–1 HOUR of pure devotion for 1 tablespoon of them?! See below)
About 5 pitted Alfonso olives–good luck finding these at any other place than Whole Foods (Did I mention shopping for the ingredients took lots of time too?)
About 3 tbl Parmagiano-Reggiano, grated
4 or 5 Veal Meatballs, broken in half
Put pizza stone in oven about 8″ from broiler. Preheat oven on bake at 5oo degrees for 30 minutes. Switch to broil for 10 minutes.
Place dough on pizza stone (you can also assemble the pie on a peel and then slide it onto the stone, but I’ve never had luck doing this), spoon tomato sauce over surface and spread evenly, leaving about an inch of the rim untouched. Distribute mozzarella over the sauce. Space meatballs evenly over the pie. Distribute the onions evenly on top, then the olives. Sprinkle the Parmagiano.
Broil for 4 1/2 minutes under gas until the top is bubbling and the crust is nicely charred but not burnt.
Using the peel (yes, I use it here with the help of a spatula), transfer the pizza to a cutting board. Sprinkle additional Parmagiano over the pie. Slice and serve immediately.
Basic Tomato Sauce (SO SIMPLE that it really shouldn’t be called sauce)
28 ounce can peeled Italian plum tomatoes
2 tbl extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 tsp sea salt
Using your hands, squish the tomatoes in a bowl.
Stir in olive oil and salt. (I only used about half of the sauce and froze the rest for next week’s pizza)
3/4 tsp sea salt
1 pound veal
1/2 medium Idaho potato, peeled
10 grinds black pepper
1 to 2 garlic cloves
Leaves from 3 sprigs of thyme
2 tbl whole milk
1 tbl canola oil
Bring salted water to gentle boil in medium saucepan and cook the potato until tender, 20 to 25 minutes. Drain and then pass through food mill (which I don’t have so I grated it).
Add the veal, salt, pepper, garlic, thyme leaves, and milk and blend thoroughly, but gently, with your hands. With moistened hands, roll into meatballs about 1 inch in diameter. You should have about 35 to 40.
Coat a saute pan with the oil and brown the meatballs for about 7 or 8 minutes over medium heat, until they medium (just a bit pink in the center). Set aside until you are ready to use them, or let cool, cover, and refrigerate for up to 4 days.
3 medium onions
1/2 tsp red wine vinegar
1 tbl extra-virgin olive oil
leaves from 2 thyme sprigs
1/4 tsp sea salt
Cut the onions in half and then into 1 1/2-inch-thick slices. With your fingers, separate the slices into strips and put them in a medium bowl. Toss with the vinegar, oil, and thyme leaves.
Transfer the onions to a 10-inch saute pan. Cover and cook, stirring every few minutes, over medium-low heat for 20 minutes. Do not burn. Uncover the pan and continue cooking, stirring occasionally, until the onions are golden and soft, about 30 minutes.
Sprinkle with the salt, transfer to a platter, and set aside to cool to room temperature.
So the traditional Friday night routine of Raj’s favorite pizza has kind of come to a slow death. With our multi-step progression of moves, our lack of a working kitchen up until recently, and my boredom of the same pizza every Friday for the last several years, I finally took a stand a switched it up a little. Here’s my first attempt at a deviation:
Caramelized Onion and Prosciutto Pizza
1 whole wheat pizza dough (see Raj’s Friday night pizza post for the recipe)
olive oil for drizzling
1 half red onion, sliced thinly
1/4 cup dark brown sugar
salt to taste
parmesan cheese, to taste
10 ounces, mozzarella di buffalo
about 10 slices of prosciutto
Preheat oven to 450 degrees.
Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a large skillet. Add onions and brown sugar and toss/stir for several minutes, or until onions are brown and cooked. Set aside.
Roll out pizza dough. Drizzle olive oil, sprinkle on a little salt, followed by a little parmesan.
Lay slices of mozzarella evenly over the top of the crust. Arrange caramelized onions over the top of the mozzarella. Randomly lay slices of prosciutto over the onions.
Bake for 15 to 17 minutes in the lower half of the oven, or until crust is golden brown. Remove from oven and cut into squares. Serve immediately.
I’m happy to report that despite Raj’s reluctance, he happily enjoyed the switch and he is looking forward to a next Friday night’s “Surprise Friday Night Pizza.” Stay tuned.