Tortelloni Di Ricotta Al Pesto Di Noci Tostate From The Geometry of Pasta

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This Monday, October 25, is World Pasta Day, a day devoted to one of the world’s most loved carbohydrate. I’ve decided to join in the celebration by sharing a recipe from the new book, The Geometry of Pasta. After all, what better time is there to share a review of a book dedicated entirely to pasta? Especially when the book contains fun recipes, like this one for Tortelloni Di Ricotta Al Pesto Di Noci Tostate (the fancy-pants Italian way of saying, “tortellini with burnt walnut pesto”)?

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This fun little book isn’t your standard cookbook at all, which is pretty evident before you even open it. The book is small but thick — like a long novel — and the striking graphic cover is as close to an illustration as you’ll get. But while this book lacks glossy photos (which we all know I love), there’s definitely no shortage of unique recipes. The Geometry of Pasta contains over 100 recipes, each featuring simple ingredients and designed to pair the perfect shape of pasta with the perfect sauce. While that may seem like overkill, there really is an art to figuring out whether a new sauce will pair better with a hearty, ridged pasta or with a smooth angel hair. This book takes the guesswork out of it — and introduces you to pasta shapes you’ve probably never heard of!

Some of the recipes are a little strange (I think I’ll pass on the alphabet pasta with ketchup, though I’m sure a little kid would find it to be a great alternative to spaghetti-o’s) and some of the pasta shapes may be hard to find but with so many recipes, this book has something for everyone. I was a huge fan of this tortellini recipe; cooking it was fun and eating it was even better. The combination of sauce and shape really was ideal — the chunky pesto settled perfectly into the curves of the tortellini, ensuring no sauce was left behind in the bottom of the bowl.

I also loved how the recipes in this book were written. They’re slightly vague, which might be frustrating to those less comfortable in the kitchen, but they remind me of something that might have been passed down by a grandparent — very, very authentic. The dual indexes — one in Italian and one in English – were also a nice touch that I appreciated a lot. While this is definitely more of a specialty cookbook than something you would use every day, it’s a great addition to your collection if you’re a fan of pasta or Italian cuisine.

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Harvest Salad with Cinnamon Pecans

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I know I’ve sad it before, but the weather really effects what I feel like eating: I only enjoy Chinese food when it rains. I go through lemons like crazy in the spring. And it’s very rare to see me eating salad on a day that isn’t sunny and warm.

So when Fresh Express issued a challenge to bloggers to create a salad for a chance to win airfare and accommodations to this year’s Foodbuzz Festival, I was perplexed. But I had so much fun last year, and I really want to go again, so I gave it some thought.

Like a lot of other food bloggers, I tend to go pumpkin-crazy this time of year. But there are so many other great, seasonal flavors! Like fresh figs, which are probably my favorite food on the entire planet. And roasted beets, whose earthy-sweetness seems right at home in the fall and winter but out-of-place the rest of the year.

I wan’t sure how these two ingredients would pair together, but I figured it was worth a shot and set out to create a salad that bridges the late summer and early fall harvest seasons. With cinnamon-pecans to add the warm flavors that I crave this time of year, prosciutto to add porkiness, and creamy goat cheese to tie everything together, this is a salad that I’ll happily eat, rain or shine, all autumn long.

(Yes, I find it somewhat ironic that I used Spring Mix in a fall-themed salad. But I’m picky about my salad greens, and that’s what I like. As for a review of Fresh Express…. well, it’s lettuce. I don’t have any complaints and I’d have no problems buying it if that’s what the store I happen to be at carries. I’m not about to make a special trip for it or anything though.)

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Cassoulet with White Beans, Sausage & Turkey

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I don’t know how I managed to make it through 20-some years of life without trying cassoulet, but I have a feeling I’ll eat enough this fall and winter to make up for it. I made the one pictured here about two weeks ago, and I’ve been dying to have it again ever since. I actually have another one in the oven as I write this post.

Don’t let the fancy French name scare you off. When it comes down to it, cassoulet is nothing more than a white bean and tomato stew. A fragrant sauce flavored with fresh herbs cooks quickly on the stove before being mixed with the rest of the ingredients and baking in the oven. It’s pure stick-to-your-ribs comfort food full of rich and delicious flavors typical of the French countryside.

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This dish takes a little longer to make than most of my recipes, requiring about 20 minutes of active time and an hour or so in the oven, but with a little planning it can definitely be made on a weeknight. Go ahead and make a big batch — it tastes even better the next day.

Traditional cassoulet uses duck or goose confit, but since that can be difficult to find (not to mention expensive!) I’ve taken the liberty of using turkey instead. I like the flavor that using some poultry gives the cassoulet, but you can leave it out and use only sausage just as easily.

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Pulled Pork Macaroni & Cheese

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It’s been practically forever since my last post. I’m sorry. Really, I am. I miss blogging but this is my busy season at work and I’ve been, well, busy. I thought I’d get ahead of it – I developed a bunch of recipes and took a bunch of photos so even if I was too busy to cook I could still post. But that obviously hasn’t happened. So, here’s a peace offering in the form of Pulled Pork Mac & Cheese. No, it’s not exactly healthy. But once in a while you need to indulge, and this is the perfect way to do it.

This recipe has been bouncing around in my head for the better part of a year and I only regret not making it sooner. The juicy, succulent pork blends perfectly with a rich four-cheese sauce and a touch of barbecue sauce. I roasted a pork shoulder especially for this recipe, but you could easily substitute pulled pork that you have leftover from another occasion – just adjust the amount of barbecue sauce accordingly. This mac and cheese shouldn’t be overly barbecue-y… just enough to give the dish a subtle flavor and to cut through the richness of the cheese.

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