5. Lemon and Arugula Cacio e Pepe
12 oz dried spaghetti
1⁄4 lb pancetta or bacon, finely diced (about 3⁄4 cup)
1⁄4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
3 tbsp minced garlic (about 4 big cloves)
1 tsp red pepper flakes, plus more to taste
2 tsp freshly ground black pepper, plus more to taste
1⁄4 cup fresh lemon juice
1 1⁄2 cups freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, plus more for serving
3 cups baby arugula
1. In a large pot of heavily salted boiling water, cook the spaghetti to al dente according to the package directions. Reserve 1 cup of the pasta water (it comes in handy). Drain the pasta.
2. Meanwhile, in a large skillet, cook the pancetta over medium-high heat until crisped, 7 to 9 minutes. Add the olive oil, then add the garlic, red pepper flakes, and black pepper. Cook until fragrant, about 1 minute.
3. Add the lemon juice to the skillet, then toss in the drained pasta and toss to coat. Add the Parm and toss, adding the pasta water, a couple of tablespoons at a time, just to help the cheese coat the pasta. Add the arugula and toss until it wilts, about 1 minute.
4. Season to taste with additional salt, lots of black pepper, and red pepper flakes. Serve with more Parm.
4. French Toast Casserole with Salted Frosted Flakes
For the base:
1 tbsp softened butter, for greasing the baking dishieg
1-lb. loaf French bread, cut into 1 1⁄2-inch cubes (stale or day-old is fine!)
8 large eggs
2 cups heavy cream
1 cup whole milk
1⁄2 cup spiced rum (because rum for breakfast)
1 cup (packed) light brown sugar
1 tbsp vanilla extract
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1⁄2 tsp grated nutmeg
1⁄2 tsp kosher salt
For the topping:
3 cups Frosted Flakes cereal
3 tablespoons butter, melted
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1. Make the base: Butter a 9 × 13-inch baking dish (or a tall-sided 12-inch ovenproof skillet) and arrange the cubed bread in the dish. In a big bowl, whisk the eggs to combine. Then, whisk in the heavy cream, milk, rum, brown sugar, vanilla, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt until smooth. Pour the mixture over the bread, pressing on the bread to help soak it in the custard.
2. Refrigerate for at least 6 hours and up to 12. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Take the casserole out of the fridge and let it sit at room temp for 30 minutes.
3. Make the topping: In a bowl, combine the cereal, melted butter, and salt; toss to coat. Spread the mixture evenly over the casserole. Bake until the topping is golden and the bread cubes peeking out of the top are crusty and toasty, 50 to 55 minutes.
3. Sweet Potato Gnocchi with Brown Butter and Sage
For the GNOCCHI
1 pound sweet potato (about 1 large)
1/3 cup whole-milk ricotta cheese
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
3/4 cup all-purpose flour, plus more if necessary
For the SAUCE
1 stick (4 ounces) unsalted butter
1/4 cup torn fresh sage leaves
1/2 cup finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, plus more for garnish
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
MAKE THE GNOCCHI: Pierce the sweet potato all over with a fork, wrap in a damp paper towel, and microwave on high until it is very soft, 12 to 13 minutes.
When the sweet potato is cool enough to handle, peel it and mash the flesh with a potato masher or ricer in a medium bowl until smooth. Stir in the ricotta, pepper, and 1 teaspoon salt, then scatter the flour into the mixture. Mix with a fork until a doughy mixture forms that’s loose and shaggy but doesn’t stick to the sides of the bowl; if necessary, add more flour, 1 tablespoon at a time.
In a large pasta pot, bring a gallon of water to a boil over high heat and salt it until it tastes good.
Flour your work surface and dump the dough onto it. Flour your hands and gently knead the dough 10 times—by folding the dough in half, pressing gently with the heel of your hand, and turning it 90 degrees each time —until it is no longer sticky. Add sprinkles of flour when necessary, but the less flour you use, the more tender the gnocchi will be.
Divide the dough into 3 equal pieces and gently roll them into balls. On a floured surface, using your hands, roll one ball of dough into a 12-inch-long, 1-inch-thick log. Use a paring knife to cut the dough crosswise into twelve 1-inch pieces. Repeat with the remaining dough balls to form about 36 gnocchi. Drop the gnocchi into the boiling water, stirring after about 1 minute to ensure they aren’t sticking to the bottom of the pot, and cook until they float to the surface for a few seconds and are tender-firm, 4 to 5 minutes.
MEANWHILE, MAKE THE SAUCE: While the gnocchi are cooking, in a large skillet, melt the butter over medium heat. When the foam subsides, add the sage and cook until the sage is crispy and the butter is browned, about 3 minutes.
Drain the gnocchi (don’t rinse it) and add it to the skillet. Toss to coat in the butter, add the Parm, and season to taste with salt and pepper.
Divide among bowls and garnish with more Parm.
2. Chicken Lettuce Wraps
For the sauce:
3 tbsp Thai sweet chili sauce
3 tbsp hoisin sauce
3 tbsp light soy sauce
2 tbsp Sriracha
2 tbsp vegetable oil
1 tsp sesame oil
1 1⁄2 tbsp unseasoned rice vinegar
2 tbsp minced garlic (about 4 cloves)
1 tbsp minced fresh ginger
For the filling:
1 lb ground chicken
3 tbsp vegetable oil
8 scallions, thinly sliced, whites and greens kept separate
1 tbsp minced garlic (about 2 cloves)
1 tbsp minced fresh ginger
1⁄2 lb white mushrooms, trimmed, cleaned, and finely chopped
1⁄2 cup finely diced canned water chestnuts
1 small red bell pepper, finely chopped
2 heads butter lettuce, leaves separated
1. Make the sauce: In a bowl, combine the chili sauce, hoisin, soy sauce, Sriracha, vegetable oil, sesame oil, vinegar, garlic, and ginger.
2. Make the filling: In a bowl, mix 2 tablespoons of the sauce into the ground chicken. In a large skillet, heat 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil over medium-high heat. When simmering-hot, add the chicken and cook, breaking up the meat with a wooden spoon, until browned, 5 to 6 minutes. Transfer the meat to a plate and set aside.
3. Add the remaining 1 tablespoon oil to the skillet. Then, add the scallion whites, garlic, and ginger; cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Add the mushrooms and cook, stirring, until they release their liquid, 3 to 4 minutes.
4. Return the chicken to the pan, then add the water chestnuts, bell pepper, and the rest of the sauce and cook, stirring, until cooked through and the liquid has reduced and thickened slightly, 3 to 4 minutes. Stir in the scallion greens. Transfer the mixture to a bowl and set out with the lettuce leaves.
1. Pepper’s Spicy Clams and Pasta
12 ozs. dried linguine
1 stick (4 ozs.) unsalted butter
2 T extra virgin olive oil
8 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp. red pepper flakes
1/2 cup dry white wine
1/4 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
2 lbs. Manila clams, scrubbed
1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley, plus more for garnish
1. In a large pot of heavily salted boiling water, cook the linguine until al dente according to the package directions. Reserve 1/4 cup of the pasta water, then drain the pasta and return it to the cooking pot.
2. Meanwhile, in a large skillet, heat the butter and olive oil over medium heat. When the butter foams, add the garlic and red pepper flakes and cook until the garlic is fragrant and very lightly golden, 2 to 3 minutes. Add the wine and pepper, increase the heat slightly, and cook until bubbling, about 2 minutes. Add the clams, increase the heat, cover, and cook just until the clams open, about 3 minutes.
3. Transfer the opened clams to the pasta pot. (If some clams are stubborn, re-cover the pan for another minute or two; if the clams still don’t open, ditch them.) Taste the sauce and add salt to taste.
4. Add any remaining cooked clams and all the clam liquid to the drained pasta. Warm through over medium heat, adding the reserved pasta water as needed to help bind the sauce. Toss in the parsley, divide the pasta and clams among bowls, and garnish with more parsley if you want.
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