Recipe Review: Paccheri and Cheese with Peas and Mint

This is another updated comfort food recipe from Bon Appetit March 2012. This time the classic Mac and Cheese is updated with a parmesan-fontina bechamel sauce, arugula, peas, and mint.  Bechamel, or white sauce, is one of the French mother sauces.  First, a roux is made by cooking butter and flour.  Then, milk is added and the mixture is stirred until thickened, about 20-30 minutes.  Parmesan cheese, fontina cheese, and egg are added to the bechamel sauce, which is then tossed with cooked pasta, arugula, parsley, peas, and mint.  A layer of ricotta and lemon zest is added, and everything is baked for about 45 minutes.  I made a couple of modifications, using rigatoni instead of the larger paccheri, baking in a large casserole dish instead of a springform pan, and adding some ham slices.  The total time from start to finish was about two hours.  I thought the dish turned out OK.  I liked the texture of the browned pasta at the top.  However, in terms of flavor the mild cheese sauce dominated, and none of the other flavors really popped.

Link to recipe here.

Recipe Review: Sauteed Halibut with Arugula, Roasted Beets, and Horseradish Creme Fraiche

Another winner from Chef Suzanne Goin and the Luques cookbook.  Great halibut from a local fisherman at the farmer’s market is sauteed and plated on a light salad of roasted beets and arugula dressed in a simple vinaigrette (shallot, red wine vinegar, balsamic vinegar, lemon juice, and EVOO).  There are some gorgeous beets now available at the farmer’s market in a variety of colors.  To roast, simply toss with a little olive oil and salt in a roasting pan, cover with foil, and place in the oven at 400 F for 45 minutes to an hour until tender, depending on the size of the beets.  Then slip off the skin with your hands.  The horseradish creme fraiche (creme fraiche, available at Trader Joe’s, prepared horseradish, lemon juice, and heavy cream) ties the whole dish together.  The horseradish is an interesting addition, giving the sauce a subtle sharpness that complements the sweet roasted beets and enhances the mild-flavored halibut.

Link to recipe here and link to beets recipe here.

Recipe Review: Lavash Pizzas with Arugula and Eggplant

This is a light, simple summer recipe, from Bon Appetit September 2011.  Eggplant is salted and roasted.  Whole wheat lavash, Middle Eastern flatbread available at Trader Joe’s, is used as a crust for the eggplant, cherry tomatoes, scallions, mozarella, and parmesan.  Red pepper flakes give it a little spice.  After the pizza is baked (5 minutes) arugula dressed simply in olive oil and lemon juice tops the pizza, lending bright and peppery notes.

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