The first Saturday of December found Michael and I out and about on a very brisk day to escort my parents around Midtown; they had boarded a bus to New York around 7:30 that morning from PA, and emerged from the Lincoln Tunnel about two hours later, so we ended up escorting them around Midtown for a good seven hours (notable to us only when we realized that we spent 6 of those hours walking). Once we had gotten them on their tour bus home (a surprisingly harrowing ordeal thanks to there being at least 30 buses all jockeying for a spot along 42nd Street at Bryant Park) we made our way home, stopping for a quick drink to discuss the evening’s plans that left me feeling torn on whether to bundle back up and accompany Michael to the Village for a party or to stay home. I was tired but I felt bad after saying I would go with him, and as the exhaustion from the exertions of the day set in, I’m pretty sure that it crossed a wire or two in my head because I got a little irrationally angry at the choice of either having to stay home alone or schlepping it down to the subway again. In any case, I wisely chose to stay indoors and sent Michael on his then-grumpy way, resigning myself to an evening of some of my favorite DVDs and the Wii, promptly remembering that I actually enjoy having nights to myself from time to time.
Well, in the midst of all of this (very silly) drama I had my first taste of bresaola–air-dried,salted, lean beef from the Lombardy region of Italy–in the form of what could be the most perfect meat-and-cheese sandwich ever: bresaola and goat cheese between two slices of toasted bread. That’s it.
You see, we finally decided to finally try Panino Sportivo for dinner (it’s on our block but sometimes keeps rather inconvenient hours) and I took a chance on that sandwich and the tomato soup I got to go with it, and if there was ever a cure for a rotten mood, well, that sandwich fits the bill nicely. The whirl of the holidays made me forget about how good that sandwich (and bresaola) were until I cracked open our new Rome cookbook and saw paper-thin slices of it beautifully arranged on a plate carpaccio-style, topped with arugula and shards of Parmigiano-Reggiano. And that’s basically what you do: for each serving, lay four slices of bresaola onto a white serving plate (the better to see the beautiful colors with, my dear) and arrange a small clump of arugula in the middle of the plate and dress with a little (good if you’ve got it) olive oil, salt, pepper, shards of Parmigiano-Reggiano (made from using a vegetable peeler) and a splash of lemon (we used Meyers).
It’s the perfect carpaccio-style antipasti to enjoy with no fretting over the relative freshness of the beef used,all while lending a festive presentation. All that said–on to the pesto.
I made this dish by myself nearly a year ago when Michael was visiting family and I was in search of fun cooking projects that would yield a good amount of leftovers, but since this was a recipe (courtesy of Giada) that had walnuts, I knew that if I ever had a chance of making it for Michael, I’d have to switch it up a bit, as he hates walnuts in very large quantities. So I did–we had a bag of unshelled pistachios in the freezer and given that they are very high in good nutrients and we needed a reason to use them, we spent a good thirty minutes (sacrificing a portion of a thumbnail on my part) shelling the roasted beauties and then throwing them into a blender with parsley, thyme, garlic and olive oil, and then tossing that sauce with capellini, some gently sautéed vegetables and some asiago.
I was a bit trepidatious when Michael tried it as he can be a bit of a snob when it comes to pasta dishes, but him wolfing it down signified a big victory for yours truly.
Capellini with Pistachio-Parsley Pesto
adapted from Everyday Pasta by Giada DeLaurentiis
Make the pesto: combine the whole garlic cloves, pistachios, parsley, thyme and process in a food processor or stand mixer, drizzling the 1/2 cup of olive oil to help combine; season with salt and pepper to taste. Set aside.
Bring 4 quarts of water to a boil, season well with salt and cook the capellini until al dente, about 2 minutes depending on package directions.
In a large saute pan, heat the 3 T of olive oil over medium high heat; add the peppers, chopped garlic and season with salt, and saute until tender-crisp, about five minutes. Add the pesto, cheese and pasta to the pepper/leek mixture and toss well to coat; place pasta into individual dishes or a large serving bowl and serve immediately.