Hi gastro-friends! Just a quick recipe I thought I’d share with you guys that turned out better than I expected.
Once upon a time, Mrs. Gastronaut and I lived in the East Village section of New York City. One of our favorite neighborhood restaurants was a tiny little rustic Italian place called “Supper”. Supper excelled at simple, seasonal ingredients and fresh pasta. We often went there for our Sunday pasta fix. One really interesting dish that was occasionally on the menu was a pasta with mint and coarse salt. I can’t really recall the name, but it caught our attention as it had the letter “J” in it, which isn’t in the traditional Italian alphabet. Of course, the interesting choice of mint as a spice rather than a garnish or accent was what really stood out. Very simple, very bright and very tasty.
I’m not sure why my tastebuds recently began to think about this dish, but it kept popping up in my head. I didn’t exactly try to recreate the dish (it’s been years since I’ve had it) but instead tried to make something that was inspired by it. Back to mint… in the spring it can be a bright fresh flavor to add to your salads or mojitos, but as the fall weather arrived I had more of a savory concept in mind. Mint is classically paired with lamb in the form of a jelly or reduction. I’m not sure exactly what makes it such a great combo, but I suspect it’s the slightly gamey and rich aroma of the lamb getting cut with the fresh breeze of mint. I figured; let’s make this a fall dish by pairing the pasta alongside some seared lamb chops. It didn’t disappoint.
For the pasta
- 1/2 lb quality bucatini
- 1.5 tbsp. butter
- 1/4 cup dry white wine
- 1/4 cup chicken stock
- several sprigs of mint, chopped
- coarse or sea salt
- fresh ricotta
- 1/2 cup of frozen peas
I whipped up a batch of fresh ricotta and didn’t let it strain for too long, so that it was still fairly moist in consistency. If you can find good store bought ricotta that will work too. (You can always make the ricotta ahead of time.) Get your pasta boiling with a generous amount of salt and olive oil. In a sautee pan melt down 1 tbsp of the butter, add the white wine and chicken stock. Let this reduce a bit. Add about 2/3rds of the mint, dont let it get too brown. By now your pasta should be just on the firm side of al dente. Add the pasta and peas into the sauce pan as well as about a 1/2 cup of pasta water. The starch, olive oil and salt will help thicken the simple sauce. Add the remaining butter and toss till coated well. Remove the pasta and garnish with the rest of the mint, sprinkle with coarse salt and add a nice dollop of ricotta. This dish could definitely stand on it’s own as a main, but I seared up some organic lamb chops to add a protein into the mix.
For the chops, get a heavy cast iron pan going, and preheat an oven to 375. Coat the chops in a little garlic paste, coarse salt and plenty of fresh ground pepper. Let the pan get fairly warm and then add some olive oil. Once the oil is shimmering, sear the chops for about 2 minutes on all sides, starting with the fatty edge side down first. Put the pan in the oven for about 5-10 minutes until the chops hit medium rare (about 135). The dish was a hit, and fairly easy to prep. I’d definitely double the recipe and serve this at a small dinner party some time. Simple ingredients combined and presented in a unique way made for a very satisfying meal.
Cook on Gastronauts!!!