two lentil dishes

I’ve been on a lentil kick lately. I make them with rice. Nearly always.

But below, courtesy of Moro East, are two lentil dishes sans the rice — proof to myself that they come in other forms as well. The first is a lentil and angel-hair pilav.

lentil and angel-hair pilav

red lentils

angel-hair pasta

The second dish features lentils and peas with fresh sage and plenty of fresh mint.

peas and lentils

mint and sage

And in the name of Spring: some daffodils my mom sent through the mail. 🙂

spring These represent my 18th and 19th dishes from Moro East. Percentage complete: 11.88%

tortellini in broth

Ever since this season’s contestants on Master Chef were challenged to make tortellini in broth, I knew that it was time that I attempt this dish as well—particularly as I had a recipe waiting for me in Mario Batali’s Molto Italiano.  Admittedly, I had been skimming over this page in favor of less time-consuming recipes. But, the task came to hand, and I could not deny it.

This was my first time filling pasta with various meats. We were unable to find two of the meats (ground veal and mortadella) listed in Batali’s recipe, so we added ground beef and an interesting-looking salami to the ground turkey, ground pork, and diced prosciutto.

Over all, I am quite pleased with my first attempt at this dish. I must admit that I was somewhat surprised at the folding technique. I was expecting some advanced twisting, or something . . . but, we folded the little pastas just as we have folded most other stuffed pastas (using, of course, a smaller square of pasta dough).

I now have made 65 of Batali’s 327 recipes. Percentage complete: 19.88%

green maltagliati with oven-dried tomatoes, basil and black pepper mascarpone

While making pasta, I am always amazed that such few ingredients–flour and eggs–can produce something so incredibly lovely. Yet when given the chance to play around with the ingredients a bit, I am doubly thrilled. To make this dish of green maltagliati, I stirred some blanched spinach (squeezed dry and finely chopped) into the eggs before pouring them into the well of flour. The result: green-toned pasta.

Batali also explains how to make red pasta with tomato paste, black pasta with squid ink, and black pepper pasta with (you guessed it) black pepper. The squid ink pasta seems especially intriguing.

But I must admit that the star of this dish is the oven-dried tomatoes. In the past, my roasted tomatoes were usually a bit too watery for me. The trick, courtesy of Batali: roast a pan of halved tomatoes in the oven at 150 degrees for ten hours. The result is beauty itself. On the outside, the tomatoes appear almost slightly dehydrated. Yet they retain an incredible concentrated juiciness within.

This represents my 60th and 61st (with the tomatoes counting separately) completed recipes from Mario Batali’s Molto Italiano. Percentage complete: 18.54%

pasta alla norma

Good news, everyone! Our eggplant has started producing fruit. This is our first attempt at growing eggplant, and we are quite pleased with the results. To honor its first picking, I made pasta alla Norma, a classic Sicilian dish

I made pasta alla Norma only once before while studying in Italy a few years ago. I vaguely remember my chef professor relating a sweeping tale about this pasta’s grand origins. As legend would have it, pasta alla Norma was first created in the nineteenth century for the opening night of Bellini’s opera.

The eggplant is truly the star of this dish. Honestly, I would have been happy with double the amount of eggplant—something to note for next time. Do look for more dishes featuring the wonderful eggplant, which, I would argue, deserves much more recognition than it currently receives in many circles.

I have now completed 55 of Batali’s 327 recipes. Percentage complete: 16.82%

Fresh pasta with hot peppers and lemon

This pasta is short and sweet. Easy to make. Easy to love. Its simplicity allows the contrast between the hot pepper and the lemon to take center stage.

We topped this pasta with Romano cheese and thyme. Thyme is one herb that I really ought to use more often. It’s an incredibly delicate herb with a lemon-like scent. Yet, thyme also possesses a tough earthiness as well. This dish is my 54th completed dish from Mario Batali’s Molto Italiano (percentage complete: 16.52%). Onward and upward.