Growing up in Bucharest Romania in a big family that extended to friends and neighbors, taught me a few things about hosting: mainly that my door is always open! Since our recent move, we’ve been very busy entertaining our closest and dearest this summer. So why should this past Saturday be any different.
Lex’s aunt and uncle were next on the list and I thought I’d take advantage of the Farmer’s Market in New Canaan and cook something local and sustainable. My grandmother had a full vegetable and animal farm and loved to cook. Luckily, she passed that passion on to me. What I mean is that it skipped a generation, as my mom does not like to cook…she cooks because she has to and when she does it’s very tasty. However, there’s a difference between cooking because you’re passionate about it and cooking out of necessity. (Mom, don’t hate me!).
Lex bought ribs from Fleishers Craft Butchers in Saugatauk, which eliminated the need for me to cook the main course, as he smoked them on his Green Egg all afternoon. He has proclaimed himself as the “Grill Master”. I reluctantly agree because I think I’m pretty damn good at grilling myself. I was responsible for appetizers and sides. Oh and the kids’ meal….not because my girls wouldn’t have eaten the same thing but because I’ve long given up on cooking two separate meals. My motto for the girls: “Don’t like it, don’t eat it, but there isn’t anything else!” It’s surprising how quickly kids adapt when ‘nothing’ is the other option. They had been asking me to make pasta for days and this seemed like a good time.
I went shopping and returned with loads of goodies: corn, tomatoes, basil, red onion, goat cheese, garlic sourdough bread, salad makings and pesto. Oh, and a surprisingly fabulous new hot sauce from Hoardable….I don’t think you can ever have enough variety of hot sauces. Lex added some to the barbecued ribs and oh my God! Bam!
I decided to keep it simple and make a charred corn salad, a tomato basil salad and grilled sugar snap peas. For the girls I made spaghetti with aglio e olio to which I added canned tuna, fresh tomatoes and basil. I rarely follow a recipe. I usually combine many recipes together or just wing it. And truth be told, it’s all in the ingredients. If you have good quality ingredients, it’s hard to fail.
From he who calls himself “The Grill Master”! I take no credit for the ribs, but they were insanely delicious.
Prepping for the charred corn salad.
Charred Corn Salad
- 6 ears of husked and grilled to a char
- ½ of a red onion chopped finely
- ¼ cup fresh lime juice
- 1 ripe tomato chopped
- olive oil – eye ball it
- pinch or more of salt and pepper
- ½ cup of basil leaves chopped
- a pinch of fresh chopped thyme
Mix all these ingredients together. Make sure to give the corn some time to cool off before handling it. You can always make this ahead of time and cool it in the refrigerator.
Roasted Elephant Garlic Paste
- 3-5 heads of elephant garlic (you can find this next to the regular garlic…it’s massive)
- ¼ cup of Parmegiano Reggiano grated
- your finest olive oil
- pinch of salt and pepper
Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.
Slice off the very top of the garlic head. Place in a piece of foil and drizzle olive oil inside the head of garlic until it is completely filled and just starting to run down the side.
Wrap tightly with foil and place on a cookie sheet and bake until tender and fragrant, roughly 35 minutes.
Remove from the oven and let cool. Peel outside off of bulb of garlic, then gently squeeze each clove out and Voila!
Smash the roasted garlic with a fork in bowl, add salt and pepper, olive oil for taste if needed and sprinkle the cheese on top.
Serve it with toasted Italian crusty bread.
Spruced Up Spaghetti Aglio E Olio
- 1 pound of spaghetti – opt for fresh or a trusted brand like Verrigni by Artisanal Pantry
- 1 can of tuna in olive oil – a good quality is Genova or Tuna Guy
- olive oil for cooking
- a handful of cherry tomatoes
- 6-8 garlic cloves crushed or minced
- ½ cup of dry white wine
- half a lemon – to squeeze on finished pasta
- red pepper flakes – optional
- Fresh basil to garnish
Cook your spaghetti al dente.
Add your olive oil to a large deep pan on medium heat. Add your garlic and (optional pepper flakes) and sauté until a deep golden color.
Pour your wine and turn up the heat to cook off the alcohol.
Add your tuna and tomatoes and sprinkle some salt and pepper to taste. Turn down heat and simmer ‘topless’ for about 5 minutes until tomatoes are soft. There should still be plenty of juice in the pan, if not add a splash vegetable or chicken broth.
Toss the pasta in the pan and carefully mix the ingredients around. Throw in your basil and finish with a squeeze of lemon, salt and pepper.
Super simple and delicious!