Sam Sifton, food columnist of the New York Times, speaks about the “shoulder of the season, that time between Thanksgiving and the end of the year. ” Here’s something of my take on the season, pasta in mind, before I head back to work correcting stacks of papers.
For Thanksgiving, I created a new lasagne dish to add to my repertoire. I layered the homemade lasagne: on the bottom, thin slices of squash ( I don’t know what kind it was as it was a dark reddish-orange) roasted in olive oil and thyme. More pasta. Next layer, white sauce and shredded Monterey Jack. Next, a layer of sliced mushrooms sautéed in garlic and white wine. More pasta…then a layer of chopped swiss chard and purple kale cooked in onion, olive oil, and a touch of butter. The top layer was a simple bechamel sauce with more cheese. After it baked for about an hour in the oven, I let it sit for 20 minutes so it would not lose its shape when cut. And voila! You can really see the layers!
On the topic of pastas of the season, my friend Cristina asked for a recipe to make use of leftover turkey. Of all the recipes I researched everywhere from Allrecipes to Fine Cooking, from tetrazzini to turkey pho, I didn’t find any with pasta and one that could make use of what you have already in your pantry. Last night I made a simple pasta that you can adapt with whatever ingredients you have on hand.
Begin by putting a pot of water on the stove to boil. Your sauce will take as much time to make as cooking the pasta. I used 3/4 of a box of penne. Choose a short pasta with this recipe as the sauce sticks better to it.
1 shallot finely chopped
1/2 onion finely chopped
1 carrot diced
2-3 tbl olive oil
2 tbl butter
Saute’ these lightly, first the onions, then the carrots in a wide pan. Season with salt and pepper.Then add:
2 cups of chopped cooked turkey
1 tsp thyme
Once this has cooked about five minutes, it may a bit dry. I added 3/4 cup of turkey stock. This really added lots of flavor! Then add:
1 cup frozen peas (now you can use mushrooms too)
Add a bit more water if the mixture looks dry. I added 1/4 cup cream (but this is optional). Correct the seasoning as needed. Drain the pasta al dente reserving some of the water in case you need it.
Add the pasta to the pan and stir, completing some of the cooking. To finish I added 1 cup Monterey Jack, which melts quickly and gives the pasta a rich texture. Over medium heat, give it another quick stir and serve with a freshly grated parmigiano.
A tasty alternative to your usual turkey leftover dilemma and highly adaptable to other substitutions. Buon appetito!