Here I am on another day off from work, with nothing to do but cook. It’s feeling more autumnal here by the day, but I can’t really let go of the fresh flavors of summer. The other day, I wanted to make a quick salad to go along with dinner, but I had no greens. I asked my better half if she was going to stop by the market on the way home, and if she’d be bothered to get some salad makings. I didn’t hear back for a little while, and dinner was fast approaching. I’d made a bread pudding earlier in the day, and I used the rest of the bread to do mini raclette/baguette toasted cheese sandwiches under the broiler.

Still, that’s a lot of bread.

We’re in a new place, and I still haven’t figured out why, even with a smaller fridge, I’m not able to fill it with stuff that I can grab and use to make stuff on the fly. We’ve got a couple of stores close to us, including my home store, so it’s not really a big thing. Being impatient as I am, I hopped on my bike and rode down the street to pick up some arugula from the produce market. I haven’t had arugula in six weeks.

What’s arugula? It’s a veg-e-table.

I hadn’t been to this produce market yet, and when I got in, I was surprised by how much they had to offer. I scoured the greens. Turnip, collard, kale, escarole, bibb, romaine, but no arugula. It’s a sure sign of a first world problem when you get grumpy over the lack of spring mix and microgreens in your local grocer’s produce case. They did, however, have dandelion greens- a little bitter, but for the salad I was making, I thought it would be refreshing. I picked out a bunch, along with a lemon for a fresh dressing, and biked back home.

Dandelion Greens on a sunny afternoon

By the time I got home, I checked my phone, and the lady had said she picked up some herb salad mix, so the dandelions were relocated, temporarily, to the back of the fridge.

On my days off, I get bored. I’ll go exploring, but for the most part, I’ll stay indoors, watch the television, plop around on the internet. Now that it’s about 3 p.m., I’m getting antsy. This is how it usually goes. I think it’s time to make some food.

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Dandelion Green Pasta Filling:

1 bunch Dandelion greens, triple washed, trimmed of stems

1/2 yellow onion, small dice

4 cloves garlic, sliced thin

1 T. salted butter

salt, pepper, oil

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Pulled out the dandelion greens from the fridge and tasted them just now. They are unbelievably bitter. For the greens to lose their bitterness, I may have to cook them down considerably.

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Pan on the stove. Low heat to sweat the onion and garlic. And… into the pan they go. Little salt, little pepper. So far so good. It smells pretty nice in here. After ten minutes they seem to have become tender and fragrant.

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Spin the greens to get rid of the moisture. I thought of maybe soaking them in milk? Nah. I don’t think that’d be the most productive use of milk.

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Okay. In the pan with the greens, all chopped up like they are. Let em cook. They’re looking vibrant.

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Ten more minutes in, and they’ve lost some of that green, but the cooking has taken a lot of bitterness out of them as well. I don’t have any cheese, but I don’t want to mask the comfortable level of bitterness that I still have going for the green mix. If I were to choose a cheese to go inside, it’d be a pecorino. The nutty sheep’s milk and texture would go along nicely. I think I’ll get a small wedge of it tomorrow, and serve it up on top, maybe in curls.

***

Okay. I’m going to need some pasta dough here. Trusty Mario Batali Pasta Recipe, take me away.

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I have a new cutting board. It’s all wood, of heavy stock, and it sits atop my prep rack, good for cutting stuff and kneading things. I know it’s anti-utilitarian of me, but I don’t really want to get it too dirty just yet. I fabricated the pasta dough using the well method (only way to go) inside a mixing bowl, and then turned out the sloppy mess onto the board for kneading. After about five minutes, I covered it in plastic wrap and now I’m letting it sit for another 30 minutes before taking it for a ride on the pasta bike.

Two eggs and some flour

(For more information about how to make your own fresh pasta, consult this blog entry.)

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Okay. Pasta dough has rested, now on to the bike!

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Just got done cranking the pasta dough and filling them up. Filled pasta is a lot of work if you don’t have practice. Out of a half batch of dough, I had enough filling for 22 tortellini, approximately 4 servings by Euro Standards, maybe 2 by American standards. Perhaps tomorrow night, I’ll make them for diner, with a light butter sauce with basil and crushed pecans.

A bunch of tortellini

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A final thought: An afternoon project is something very fulfilling, especially if it’s something that I can eat and share later on. I’m glad I had the opportunity to share the process with…the…internet. I’m even happier that I get to share something that I’ve made with my lady for dinner.

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