My family and I spent a wonderful New Year's week with a few friends and their families in Lake Placid. Each couple took turns cooking for the others. Each night we sipped cocktails (usually a Manhattan) and wine.
I had planned to make for everyone, an orecchiette with heavy and a spicy, spreadable sausage from my familial home region of Calabria, Italy. Except one couple was vegan. I didn't sweat it. I created two separate dishes that night--and in consultation with my vegan friends, we can up with two simple substitutions.
Pistachio butter: I substituted 1/2 cup, for the 1/3 cup heavy cream.
Dry garlic chutney: in place of the sausage, I put in two tablespoons of the chutney (which had been purchased at Kalustyan's in Manhattan.
The result: and spicy, creamy dish, slightly sweeter than the original thanks to the pistachio butter. The chutney made the dish comfortably smoky.
I adapted a recipe from a previous recipe report, thanks to Jacob Kenedy, Bocca Cookbook (Bloomsbury).
Even a small amount of ’nduja is enough to make for an extremely spicy pasta, but the heat
is tempered slightly by the cream. Nonetheless it is imperative to serve a crisp yet aromatic
white (Grillo or Fiano or Falanghina, say), or an ice-cold beer, to help you through.
Serves 4 braves as a starter, 2 as a main
7oz fine semolina, or 9oz bought fresh orecchiette, or 7oz dried (but only if you must)
1 red onion, halved and sliced with the grain
1/4 lb cherry tomatoes, quartered
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 3/4 oz ’nduja* (page 83) – or 1/4 lb if storebought and not quite so strong
1/4 cup white wine
1/3 cup heavy cream
1 1/2 cups arugula, very roughly chopped
Freshly grated Pecorino Romano, to serve
*’Nduja can be replaced with 1/4 lb crumbled Italian sausage and as much chili – dried, fresh
or both – as the cook can bear.
Make the orecchiette as on page 154. It is a labour of love, but you will be well rewarded.
Just before you put the orecchiette on to boil (or just after if they are dried), fry the onion
and tomatoes in the oil over a high heat for 3 minutes, until softened and slightly browned.
Crumble in the ’nduja and fry for 30 seconds, then add the wine and a small ladleful of
water. Let it bubble for a few moments, then add the cream.
Allow the sauce to cook until the cream has reddened, and thickened if it looked watery,
then add the drained pasta (still a little wet) and the arugula. Cook until the arugula is