- Wild Game
Pasta, Risotto, Gnocchi
Ruminations on how the Italians make grain an art form, with recipes
My mom makes a mean lasagna. It was one of our staple meals when I was a kid. This is essentially her recipe, handed down to me, only I use ground venison instead of ground beef. I hope you like it, ’cause I sure do!
No matter if you are foraging, fishing or hunting, everyone wants a bonanza. Well, I had a day like that last week clamming with fellow forager Kirk Lombard. And when it was over, there was really only one dish I could make: Classic pasta with white clam sauce.
Cattail pollen is one of the great zephyrs of the natural world: One day it’s here, the next, dried up and blown to the four winds. I finally caught it at the right moment this year, and finally got to make a dish I’ve been wanting to make for years: Cattail pollen pasta.
Don’t be fooled by the fancy name. These are your standard ricotta-spinach gnocchi, only made with wild cow parsnip greens, and the carrot consomme is fiendishly easy to make. A knockout dish that’s pure simplicity.
I had Chef April Bloomfield’s ricotta gnudi in New York at the James Beard Awards, and I had to recreate them, only with my own twist: A sauce of ramps and fresh porcini I found in the High Sierra.
This might be the prettiest – and best-tasting – dish I’ve made this spring. You can really taste the ramps in the pasta, and the morels, cooked simply with ramps, butter and a little stock, compliment the pasta like sunshine on a pretty girl’s eyes.
Beyond the fact that stinging nettles are a superfood, they are just so damn pretty! Blanched, they lose their sting, and take on a lurid emerald. That green makes an exciting pasta — and a great ravioli filling. Yep, this is a double dose of nettle goodness.
If there is one episode of Anthony Bourdain’s “No Reservations” that sticks with me, it is his trip to Venice. In that episode he has risotto di go, an ethereal dish that hinges on a magical fish broth. I’ve remade this risotto here with striped bass. It will transport you.
Cappelletti, a variant on the well-known tortellini of Bologna, are normally served in a clear broth. My cappelletti are vegetarian, filled with ricotta and spices, but you could use meat, too. The soup is a rich, clear duck broth; almost a consomme. Simple yet, elegant.
Taking a break from what has become the Summer of Salmon, this is my go-to summertime pasta sauce recipe. A mix of fresh or preserved tomatoes, lots of fresh fennel and a little bit of anise-flavored liqueur brighten up this sauce for warm days.