Spaghettini with walnut sauce and goat cheese fonduta

Although very popular in Italy, walnut sauce tossed with pasta is almost never seen in the United States – I guess the sauce has too many rivals with more stature and fame! But walnuts make a most satisfying sauce, especially in the fall and winter months when nuts are at their freshest.

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Fregola with kale pesto and poached eggs-Pecorino Romano shavings

Fregola (also known as “fregula” or “fregola sarda”) is a type of pasta from Sardinia, made with semolina flour, that’s rolled into tiny balls and then toasted in the oven. The tiny pasta balls might be dainty-looking, but don’t be fooled… this pasta is as bold and hearty as can be! Indeed, the toasted flavor of the pasta is quite prominent and demands a sauce that will stand up to it – the reason fregola is traditionally served with tomato-based sauces.

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Cauliflower mezzalune with pan-fried mint and black truffle salt

I wish modern life granted us more leisurely time in the kitchen… making fresh pasta! I’m almost never happier than when kneading and shaping pasta dough – flour sprinkled to my elbows, all over the floor, and even on my slippers. I find making fresh pasta an extraordinarily relaxing endeavor – one that, for me, is something like meditation or gardening. The hours go by in a flash and the result of my labor is deeply satisfying.

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Linguini fini with braised leeks and fresh goat cheese-cured olive caviar

Leeks, like all members of the onion family, have the wonderful attribute of acquiring a sweet, delicate flavor when cooked… especially when gently cooked, as in this pasta. Here the leeks are braised along with red onions to create the most succulent base for the linguini. The garnish of the creamy, slightly tangy fresh goat cheese and the salty cured olives brings a marvelous contrast to all that sweetness.

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Caserecci with yellow tomato sauce and roasted fennel-Asiago shavings

Here’s another recipe that’s ideally suited to the transitional weeks of summer into fall. The richly flavored (but still light) tomato sauce is paired with roasted fennel and young Asiago cheese shavings. The roasted fennel brings a marvelous depth to the sauce, while the Asiago adds a touch of saltiness – both elements a delightful contrast to the sweetness of the tomatoes.

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