Sunday, January 26, 2014

Breaking Good

Spending Friday nights at home gives me the perfect reason to thin out the mile high recipe pile on my desk. It's also the best way to wind down from a long week and connect with my family over a good meal.  This weekend I made the most awesome pizza and pasta that was a total home run.

Pizza with Charred Cherry Tomatoes and Pesto & Orecchiette with Squash, Chiles, and Hazelnuts

Believe it or not, this restaurant quality meal is easy to make. I honestly didn't spend more than 45 minutes in the kitchen which isn't usually the case for a gourmet meal. Pairing it with Breaking Bad episodes is priceless. (For adults, not kids).

Shape your pizza crust like a heart and call it Valentine's Day. 

Pizza with Charred Cherry Tomatoes and Pesto


Orecchiette with Squash, Chiles, and Hazelnuts

Recipes after the jump:

PC: Marcus Nilsson & Bon Appetit
Pizza with Charred Cherry Tomatoes and Pesto
Servings: 6
Adapted from Food & Wine:

2.5 cups cherry tomatoes
1/3 cup panko 
2 garlic cloves, chopped
1 shallot, thinly sliced
6 basil leaves, torn
2 tbsp EVOO
Salt/Freshly Ground Pepper
1 lb Pre Made Pizza Dough (I use the whole wheat version from Whole Foods)
3/4 cup coarsely grated aged gouda cheese (3 ounces) (I shredded it in my Cuisinart)
6 tbsp freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano Cheese
Store Bought Basil Pesto (4-6 container)

Preheat the broiler. In a medium baking dish, toss the cherry tomatoes with the panko, garlic, shallot, basil and olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Broil 6 inches from the heat for about 5-8 minutes, or until the tomatoes pop and brown lightly. 

  1. Preheat the oven to 500°. Set a pizza stone on the bottom of the oven and heat for at least 30 minutes.
  2. On a lightly floured work surface, roll out the dough to a 12-13" pizza round and poke with a fork all over so the dough won't rise in the oven. Transfer to a pre heated pizza stone and bake for 4 minutes. Spoon the cherry tomato topping on and bake for an additional 4 minutes until sizzling and just set. Remove from the oven and sprinkle with the gouda and parmesan cheese. Bake for about 5 minutes longer, until the cheeses are melted and the crust is lightly browned. Drizzle with Basil Pesto and serve.
  3.  Orecchiette with Squash, Chiles, and Hazelnuts -Bon Appetit
    Servings: 4
  4. Ingredients: 
    12 oz. fresh orecchiettekosher salt2 Tbsp. olive oil½ small butternut squash, peeled, cut into ½” pieces (about 2 cups)2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced½ tsp. crushed red pepper flakes, divided¼ cup (½ stick) unsalted butter, cut into pieces1 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice¼ cup grated Parmesan plus more for serving¼ cup blanched hazelnuts*4 Tbsp. torn fresh mint leaves, divided
  5. Preheat oven to 350°. Spread out hazelnuts on a small rimmed baking sheet and toast, tossing occasionally, until golden, about 6 minutes. Let cool, then coarsely chop; set aside.
  6. Cook pasta in a large pot of boiling salted water, stirring occasionally, until al dente (about 5 minutes for fresh pasta). Drain, reserving 1 cup pasta cooking liquid.
  7. Meanwhile, heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add squash and cook, tossing occasionally, until crisp-tender, about 5-7 minutes. Add garlic and ¼ tsp. red pepper flakes and cook, stirring, just until garlic begins to brown, about 2 minutes. Immediately add ½ cup pasta cooking liquid to keep garlic from burning; reduce heat to low and gradually add butter, swirling skillet and adding more pasta cooking liquid as needed, until a thick, glossy sauce forms.
  8. Add pasta to skillet with squash and sauce and toss to coat. Add lemon juice, ¼ cup Parmesan, 2 Tbsp. mint, and remaining ¼ tsp. red pepper flakes and toss to combine; season with salt and pepper.
  9. Serve pasta topped with reserved hazelnuts, more Parmesan, and remaining 2 Tbsp. mint.
  10. DO AHEAD: Hazelnuts can be toasted 5 days ahead. Store airtight at room temperature.
*to blanch the hazelnuts, place in a 350 degree oven for 8 minutes or until golden.  Remove, allow to cool, and peel off the shell with your hands.  

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