Monday, December 24, 2012

Best of 2012: Pasta, Gnocchi and Rice

Pasta is one of the things I like to make most. It’s quick and forgiving, making it ripe for experimentation. My favorite pasta recipes from the year highlight a variety of seasonal flavors, like the Spring Pasta with Asparagus and Snap Peas, the summery Extra Fresh Pasta with Ricotta and Roasted Tomato Sauce and Orecchiette with Roasted Brussels Sprouts, which I made in the spring but would be perfect for fall. The latter two recipes include homemade pasta; easier to make than you might think and worth the extra effort. One dish I made over and over was Tomatoes Two Ways Pasta, which features the bright flavor of fresh ripe tomatoes stirred into the sauce at the end to cook up just a bit and tomatoes that have been slowly roasted in the oven to develop depth of flavor.

A dish that’s good any time of year is Macaroni & Cheese, which I presented in a traditional style, a corn pudding-inspired Macorny and Cheese and a dressed-up Truffled Mushroom Mac & Cheese.

Homemade pasta is wonderful, but the store-bought dried version is good too. With gnocchi though, you really ought to go homemade. This Gnocchi with Sausage-Mushroom Ragu surrounds the pillowy potato dumplings in a rich, savory sauce flavored with sage.

Rice is an ingredient I’d like to do more with next year (I have my eye on paella). My favorite rice treatment is risotto, the classic Italian dish that sometimes gets a bad reputation for requiring lots of stirring (you have to stir it, but there are lots of dishes that require stirring, so it’s really no different). Corn Risotto offers a lighter take on what can be a heavy dish if it’s smothered with too much cheese and cream.

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