It was still bitterly cold out, but we’d enjoyed our home and body-warming meat ration the day before. Normally the alternative for a meal on a day when there was no market in Union Square would be a boiled pasta dish, but it seemed to both of us that a baked pasta would be much more satisfying, given the weather outside, and temperatures in the high 60s inside.
We had almost none of the ingredients I usually incorporate in these dishes, but I looked deeper in the file I keep for oven pastas and found one recipe that matched what we did have, and, except for 2 of the 3 cheeses, all of the ingredients would be local.
Even after I discovered that I didn’t have a large enough number of Brussels sprouts, I was able to recover, deciding that my large stock of winter kale, also local produce, could be substituted for the amount missing. I hope to make this dish again, but I’d try really hard to make it as it was deigned, using Brussels sprouts alone, because they have a sweetness other brassicas lack, regardless of their own virtues, and I also think I would want to roast them, for even greater flavor, rather than include them in the water with the pasta and the potatoes.
I didn’t have quite enough pasta, even putting 2 different hearty local artisanal varieties together, so I added a second potato, the same kind as the first. This may have produced an ambiguity in that part of the headline at the top of this post, which I had composed before I began cooking.
The recipe doesn’t mention salt, except for generously adding some to the pasta and potato cooking water, nor is pepper included, but both would be appropriate additions at the time the contents of the casserole are arranged; I also added a bit of dark dried habanada pepper at the same time.
We didn’t finish half of the dish on Thursday, but it’s likely to taste even better when we return to it.
- otherwise, the recipe is Nigella Lawson’s, and the ingredients I used were a mix of 2 locally-sourced Sfoglini pastas, Whole Grain Reginetti and Rye Trumpets; a small-ish stalk of Brussels sprouts from Race Farm, winter kale from Philipps Farms, 2 Kennebec potatoes from Rick Bishop’s Mountain Sweet Berry Farm, a “local ricotta” (although the actual source was not indicated), an imported Swiss gruyere, a 24 month-aged parmigiano reggiano, Organic Valley ‘Cultured Pasture Butter’, a house Portuguese olive oil, and fresh sage leaves, all from Chelsea Whole Foods Market, and one large minced garlic clove from John D. Madura Farms
- the wine was an Italian (Sicily) red, Centopassi, Nero d’Avola ‘Argille di Tagghia Via’ 2016, from Astor Wines
- the music was Bellini’s 1830 two-act tragedia lirica, ‘I Capuleti e i Montecchi’, Fabio Luisi conducting the Wiener Symphoniker and the Vienna Singakademie, with Robert Gleadow, Anna Netrebko, Tiziano Bracci, Elina Garanca, and Joseph Calleja