Fall Pasta, Scott Conant Style

Scarpetta Cookbook_Scott Conant

Image Source: Amazon

If you’ve never had the opportunity to eat at one of Scott Conant’s Scarpetta restaurants, it’s hard to know what you’re missing.  So let me fill you in.  Every dish arrives bursting with flavor.  Whether it’s polenta or fritto misto, branzino or pancetta wrapped pork –  you eat very, very slowly in order to savor every bite.

But what really drives diners mad are his pastas, which are renowned and for good reason.  They are cooked to al dente perfection, and the choice of ingredients for each of his sauces is sometimes classic, oftentimes original, always pause-worthy in the best possible way.  You can’t believe what’s going on in your moth.  Currently, on the New York menu, you’ll find Short Rib & Bone Marrow Agnolotti, Duck & Foie Gras Ravioli and Cavatelli prepared with rabbit, porcini mushrooms and arugala.

About now you’re thinking, “Well, that’s great those folks in New York, Toronto, Miami, Las Vegas, LA, but what about the rest of us?”  To which Scott Conant has provided a more than suitable answer in the form of his new “Scarpetta Cookbook.”  On Friday, he shared two recipes from the cookbook with the Today Show: Orecchiette with Boar Sausage, Fava and Mint, which I have included below; and Scialatielli With Clams, Arugula and Basil, which you can find here.   So, get in the kitchen and get your Scarpetta on.

Buon Appetito!

Orecchiette with Boar Sausage, Fava, and Mint 

Serves 6

This is a twist on the orecchiette with sausage and broccoli rabe that I grew up on. Though we didn’t have boar sausage in our family version, it’s quite common in Tuscany and is becoming more available here. You can substitute high-quality sweet Italian sausage, however, if you like.

Recipe_Orecchiette with Boar Sausage, Fava Beans, and Mint

Image Source: Amazon

 1 pound wild boar sausage, removed from casings
 3 ounces pancetta, chopped very finely
 1 tablespoon fennel seeds, toasted and ground
 1 ½ teaspoons crushed red pepper
 Kosher salt
 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
 1 cup sliced shallots
 1 clove garlic, sliced
 1 pound orecchiette
 1 cup fava beans, blanched
 1 cup peas, blanched
 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into pieces
 1 cup pea shoots
 ½ cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
 2 tablespoons coarsely chopped fresh mint

In a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook, mix the sausage, pancetta, fennel, and crushed red pepper until combined. Cover and refrigerate for at least 4 hours and up to 24 hours to let the flavors meld.

Bring a large pot of well-salted water to a boil. Heat the olive oil in a large sauté pan over medium heat. Spread half of the sausage mixture over half of the pan in a thin patty. (Reserve the other half of the sausage for future good eating; it freezes well.) Cook the sausage undisturbed to brown on side.

At the same time, on the other side of the pan, add the shallots and cook, stirring occasionally until tender, about 3 minutes. Add the garlic and continue to cook until the shallots are a deep brown, another 5 minutes. Use a spoon or spatula to mix the sausage well with the shallots and garlic, and continue to cook until the sausage no longer looks raw.

Cook the orecchiette until not quite al dente. Add ¾ cup of the pasta cooking water to the sauté pan, increase the heat, and use a spatula to scrape up any brown bits in the pan. Add the fava beans and peas and toss to combine.

Reserve some of the pasta cooking water and drain the pasta. Add the pasta, the butter, and ½ cup of the pasta cooking water to the pan. Take the pan off the heat. Reserve about ¼ cup of the pea shoots and add the rest to the pan. Add the Parmigiano-Reggiano and mint and toss well. If the pasta looks dry, add a little more of the pasta water. Divide among serving bowls and top with the reserved pea shoots.

Linguine with Clams – Or Linguine Alle Vongole, A Pasta Favorite

Photo: Ken Hammond, Wikimedia Commons

I’ve always wanted to learn how to prepare Linguine Alle Vongole (pasta with clams).  It’s one of those dishes that I often order when eating out, precisely because I have yet to figure out how to make it nearly as good as I’ve enjoyed in restaurants like Peasant and Barolo.

And who better to teach me than Chef David Pasternack of ESCA (one of my pre-/post-theater picks, or pretty-much-anytime picks).  I don’t typically pull from the Today Show twice in one week, but when I saw this, I couldn’t help myself.  The recipe is included below.  And here’s a link to the show’s site, so that you can watch the video segment.  The added bonus in the video?  David Pasternack’s take on garlic bread.

Buon appetito!


Recipe: Linguine with clams, pancetta and red pepper flakes

Chef David Pasternack

  • For the linguine meal:
  • 1 pound dried linguine
  • 1/4 cup plus 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus high-quality extra-virgin olive oil, for drizzling
  • 1 clove garlic, thinly sliced
  • 6 ounces pancetta, cut into thin strips
  • 8 mild dried red chiles (such as Italian finger hots), whole
  • 2 3/4 pounds clams (mahogany or littlenecks, about 48 total), scrubbed clean
  • 1/3 cup dry white wine
  • 1 cup clam stock or lobster stock (recipe follows) or pasta cooking water
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt, plus more to finish
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper plus more to finish
  • 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 2 tablespoons chopped flat leaf parsley
  • For the clam or lobster stock:
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 shallots, chopped (about 1/2 cup)
  • 1 sprig thyme
  • 4 black peppercorns
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 3 parsley stems
  • 1 2/3 cup dry white wine
  • 4 pounds or chowder clams or 4 lobster bodies

To make the linguine:
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the linguine and cook for 1 minutes less than the box directions (al dente). Drain in a colander, reserving 1 cup of the cooking liquid if not using the clam or lobster stock (recipe provided below). Toss the pasta in the colander with 1/4 cup of the olive oil and set aside.

Heat 3 tablespoons of the olive oil in a 6-quart pot or Dutch oven with a lid over medium-high flame. Add the garlic and pancetta and cook, stirring occasionally, until the garlic begins to take on color, about 4 minutes. Add the chiles and the clams, cover the pot, and cook until the clams begin to open, about 2 1/2 minutes. Then add the wine and the clam or lobster stock, or reserved pasta water (it should bubble when it hits the pan), and replace the lid. Cook for 2 to 3 minutes more, checking to see when all of the clams have opened (discard any that don’t). Add the pasta and season with the 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper. Add the red pepper flakes. Add the parsley, toss gently to combine, and cook for an additional minute or so to thoroughly reheat the linguine. Divide among four bowls, being sure to distribute the clams equally. Drizzle each bowl with a high-quality extra-virgin olive oil, a sprinkling of crunchy sea salt, and some freshly ground black pepper.

To make 1 quart of clam or lobster stock:
Over a medium-low flame, heat the olive oil in a 4-quart pot. Add the shallots and cook slowly until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the thyme, peppercorns, bay leaf, parsley stems and white wine. Raise the flame to high, bring to a boil, and cook until the liquid reduces by half, about 7 minutes. Add the clams and enough water to completely cover them, about 1 quart. Bring to a boil, reduce the flame to medium, and cover. Simmer until all the clams have opened, about 6 minutes. (Discard any clams that don’t open.) Strain the liquid through a fine-mesh sieve and discard the solids. Let the stock cool to room temperature before refrigerating. Clam or lobster stock can be refrigerated for up to 3 days, or frozen.

Serving Size

Serves 4

Giada’s Quick and Easy Pasta Sauces

I am a fan of Giada De Laurentiis.  She clearly loves food, loves to eat, and always makes everything look easy.  And, without fail, her recipes are delicious.

Image: giadadelaurentiis.com

This morning, on the Today Show, she prepared three simple pasta sauces: Thyme butter sauce (served with any kind of ravioli); Vodka sauce (great with spaghetti or penne); and Spicy pesto sauce (with rigatoni, served cold as a side, or add cooked shrimp or chicken to hearty it up).  Here are the recipes.

Buon appetito!


Recipe: Thyme butter sauce

Giada De Laurentiis

  • 3/4 cup unsalted butter (1 1/2 sticks)
  • 1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper

Melt the butter with the thyme leaves in a medium, heavy skillet over medium heat until the butter is melted, about 2 minutes.

Recipe: Vodka sauce

Giada De Laurentiis

  • 3 cups marinara sauce
  • 1 cup vodka
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt, plus more to taste
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus more to taste

In a heavy, large skillet, simmer the marinara sauce and vodka over low heat, stirring often, until the mixture reduces by one fourth, about 20 minutes. Stir in the cream and continue to simmer over low heat until the sauce is heated through. Remove the skillet from the heat and stir in the Parmesan, 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon of pepper. Season the sauce with more salt and pepper to taste.

Recipe: Spicy pesto sauce

Giada De Laurentiis

  • 1 cup chopped walnuts
  • 2 cloves garlic, coarsely chopped
  • 1 (2- inch) red or green jalapeno pepper, stemmed and coarsely chopped
  • 2 cups grated asiago cheese
  • 2 teaspoons salt, or more to taste
  • 1 teaspoon pepper, or more to taste
  • 2 cups (3 ounces) baby spinach
  • 3 cups (3 ounces) arugula
  • 1/4 cup olive oil

In a food processor, combine the walnuts, garlic, jalapeno, grated cheese, salt and pepper. Process until the mixture is smooth. Add the spinach and arugula and process until blended. With the machine running, gradually add the olive oil.