Wednesday, April 6, 2011

A Special Sunday Dinner

A few weeks ago, Z suggested we have my parents over for dinner. After coordinating our schedules, we finally were able to cook for them this past Sunday evening.

My parents, who still live in Merrimack, New Hampshire (where I grew up) had never seen Z's house before - which Z and his family have totally upgraded over the last year - so it was nice to have them over and see all the work Z has put into the place. My parents brought the wine (pinot noir) and beer (Woodstock Inn sampler), while Z and I took care of the food. We spent most of our afternoon cooking, which was a lovely way to spend a Sunday together.

Z suggested we make homemade pasta - which we learned to make a few weeks ago at a cooking class - and from there, the menu evolved. Here's what we served:

Appetizer: Spicy Chickpea Puree
Main course: Homemade linguine with homemade parsley pesto, with a side salad of arugula, grape tomatoes, mushrooms, avocado and sunflower seeds
Dessert: Leftover pastries and cookies from Canela and Azucar

Parsley pesto.

Arugula salad.

Pasta with the parsley pesto.

This meal ended up being fairly simple to make, although all of the homemade touches made it that much more special. Also, making your own pasta is insanely affordable - and easy - as long as you have a pasta machine. 

Here are the recipes from the evening:

Spicy Chickpea Puree
-1 tsp. cumin
-1/2 tsp. coriander
-1/4 tsp. fennel seeds
-2 cloves garlic
-Salt and black pepper
-1/4 tsp. cayenne
-1 1/2 cups canned chickpeas, drained and rinsed
-2 tbsp. olive oil, plus extra to finish
-1 tbsp. dried cilantro leaves
-Juice of one lemon

1.) Toast the cumin, coriander, and fennel seeds in a small skillet over low heat, shaking the pan frequently. As soon as they release their aroma, after a few minutes, turn them onto a plate to cool.
2.) In a food processor, mash the toasted spices with the chickpeas, garlic, 1/2 teaspoon salt, cayenne, oil and cilantro until smooth. Season the puree with lemon juice and salt and black pepper to taste.
3.) Pile the puree into a serving dish. Make a depression in the middle, and add a spoonful of olive oil. Serve immediately with pita chips (or, keep the puree in the fridge for up to 30 minutes, then add the olive oil right before serving).

*We eliminated the lemon zest; added some cayenne and black pepper. The Parmesan cheese was also intense, so we added more lemon juice to take away some of the saltiness/cheesiness. Walnuts are also much cheaper than pine nuts, and I can never taste the difference!

Fresh Egg Pasta
-2 cups all-purpose flour
-3 large eggs, beaten
-Water, as needed

1.) Pulse flour in a food processor to aerate it. Add eggs and process until the dough forms a rough ball, about 30 seconds (if dough resembles small pebbles, add water, 1/2 teaspoon at a time. If dough sticks to side of the food processor, add 1 tablespoon flour at a time and process).
2.) Turn out the dough ball and small bits onto a work surface, and form into a large ball. Cover with plastic wrap and let sit for 15 minutes.
3.) Cut the dough into five even pieces and, using a manual pasta machine, roll out the dough:
         -Flatten each 1/5th of the dough ball into a disk. Run the disk through the rollers set to the widest position.
         -Feed the open side of the pasta dough through the rollers.
         -Run the pasta through the widest setting twice, or until the dough is smooth. If the dough is at all sticky, lightly dust it with flour. Begin to roll the pasta thinner by putting it through the machine repeatedly, narrowing the setting each time.
         -Roll until the dough is thin and satiny, dusting with flour if sticky. You should be able to see the outline of your hand through the pasta. Lay the pasta flat on floured plastic wrap, and let sit for 15-30 minutes. Then, run it through the pasta machine to create linguine noodles. 

What's your favorite way to spend a Sunday?


  1. Looks like a delicious homemade meal, I have yet to tackle homemade pasta. PS - I met Z's coworker Becky this weekend!

  2. This looks like a lovely meal! I love cooking with Bret on Sundays too!

  3. I think it's so cute that you guys cook together! I love spending Sundays cooking and baking.

  4. Everything looks fabulous! I'm making a pesto tonight; I think with arugula :) It's one of my very favorite things!