Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Fregola Sarda with Asparagus and Lemon

My posting has gotten sporadic lately, sorry!  My recent dog adoption took up a lot of time in the beginning, and then I bought The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim  and since then I've completely failed at adulthood like a good little gaming addict!  Usually a new computer game means less time for cooking, or at least a greater emphasis on quick, easy meals.  Here's a dish I made recently that took less than 20 minutes!

My in-laws are foodies, which is nice because that means I never have a bad meal with them.  It's also pretty cool that they give us all kinds of high quality ingredients to experiment with.  Recently, they gave us some fregola sarda, which I had never heard of until I looked it up on Wikipedia.   It's an Israeli couscous-sized pasta that has been toasted.  As a result, this pasta is a variety of shades of brown and gold, and its toastiness sets it apart from other pastas.

The best recipes are ones that don't overpower the toasty flavor.  This one appealed to me because it contains lemon and I love tart and sour flavors. Since the pasta tastes so good on its own, I restrained myself and put in exactly the maximum amount of lemon zest specified in the recipe.  It was hard not to go crazy and double it, but I behaved myself. 

The only changes I made were to increase the amount of asparagus and use a little extra cheese.  I had more than 1/4 pound and I didn't want it to go to waste.  The lemon zest complimented the toasty flavor of the pasta perfectly.  If you can find fregola sarda, this quick meal is great when you're in a hurry!  This meal can be made vegetarian by substituting vegetable broth for chicken broth. 

Monday, November 7, 2011


One of my favorite restaurants in DC, Zaytina, used to feature a dish called manti, which were tiny Turkish dumplings filled with ground meat topped with an amazing salty garlic yogurt sauce and paprika.  Sadly, the manti disappeared from the menu for a while, and is only offered as a special now, from time to time.  Ever since trying them, I've wanted to make them myself, especially for the sauce.

Over the weekend, I had enough time to finally try the manti recipe from Turquoise.  All I can say is wow, these things were good.  The sauce was even better than what I had at Zaytinya!  The manti themselves were very labor intensive, and were worth making for the experience.  Apparently, the smaller the manti, the better the chef, but I made large ones to save time.  In the future, I'd probably use wonton wrappers to speed up the process.  But the sauce!  So. Good.  It's really two sauces: yogurt sauce and paprika butter.  I'm going to make it to serve with other dishes, like kofte kebab and Turkish chicken with tomato rice pilaf.  The sauce is salty, garlicky, and the paprika butter gives it a great spicy, smoky taste.  I topped my manti with some Aleppo pepper.
The finished product, with the tasty, tasty sauce.


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