We have been cooking like crazy in the Sullivan house lately, trying new recipes every night, taking advantage of spring veggies like peas and morels, and, filling the family recipe binder with new memories and dishes. I had to share some of my latest favorites.
In the interest of my waistline and energy level, I try to avoid cooking/baking anything with sugar, and this generally leads me away from bread and pasta. I tend to specialize in the lean protein and salad categories and that’s usually all I crave anyway. Even in the morning, more often than not when I do eat breakfast, it’s a green salad. (I know, I’m nuts.)
Anyway, lately and strangely, I’ve been on a serious pasta kick. There is one person and one restaurant to blame for this. My wonderful, dear college friend Michelle came down to visit from NYC about a month ago and when we visit, we always eat like queens. This visit was no exception. We hit the famous Vedge for dinner Saturday night (totally vegan and totally insanely mindblowingly delicious) and for brunch on Sunday, Nick and I proudly revealed the jewel of our neighborhood, a boutique Italian restaurant called Wm. Mulherin's Sons, which opened last year in a 100-year old whiskey distillery. Written up in Vogue, Bon Appetit, The Robb Report and The Washington Post, among others, Mulherins is being lauded as one of the 25 best new restaurants in the country. While it’s difficult to pinpoint what they do best, I’ve decided after careful research (approximately 15 visits since they opened) that their fresh pasta is it. When we visited for brunch with Michelle, we split an order of cacio e pepe and I am in no way being dramatic when I say it changed my life.
It was so insanely - laughably, really - simple. In Italian, “cacio e pepe” means simply “cheese and pepper” and those are the simple stars of this dish - along with the gorgeously silky freshly-made-that-day-bucatini they serve it with at Mulherins. Since that meal, I have made cacio e pepe half a dozen times and all I can think about is pasta.
Luckily, my husband is absolutely always a willing participant in my food adventures and lately, I've been so slammed at work, he's done most of the cooking. I choose the recipes, meal plan for the week and buy groceries every weekend then he cooks dinners while I take a break from work to do yoga most days. It's a pretty fantastic setup and he is a really, really good cook. These are some of our favorites from the past few weeks:
Cacio e Pepe
Please make this. Definitely best with fresh bucatini, but, frankly, it's pretty good with just basic spaghetti out of a box. Guys, I just never knew such incredible pasta could possibly be this simple. Maybe you guys already knew this but I didn't and no one told me, so now I'm telling you. It's like a really silky, beautiful mac'n'cheese for adults.
Pappardelle with Chicken Ragu, Fennel and Peas
I'll be honest - this isn't a super quick meal. It's not your under 30 minute minimal clean-up kind of dish. This is a dinner-for-having-friends-around-the-table-on-Saturday-night or Sunday-family-meal-after-a-slow-afternoon-of-cooking kind of dish. It's sophisticated, impressive and so delicious you will feel like you've just eaten at a five star restaurant in Italy. If you want to speed this baby up, skip the chicken roasting part and use chicken broth.
Garlicky Spaghetti with Mixed Greens
If you put greens in your pasta it just counts as salad, right? Even if it doesn't, make this. It is so delicious. We've had a hard time finding mustard greens so we've substituted with dandelion greens (usually available at Whole Foods) and combined with Lacinto kale, the dish has a gorgeous balance of citrus (from the lemon), bitter (from the greens) and crunch (from the panko). Plus it has loads of garlic. I love anything with loads of garlic.
Lovely readers, I know, we have been warned over and over to steer clear of carbohydrates but even this salad lover has to admit that there is little more satisfying than biting into a spoonful of fresh pasta. Mangia and buon appetito!