As we are getting ready to move our little family across country, we are making visits to all our favorite places here in Connecticut. One of these favorite places is the most charming of Italian markets. I used to be able to slip away to this market on my lunch break, sit outside in the sun with a good friend, and crunch away on a savory broccoli rabe salad with creamy feta cheese, and sip a limonata.
The counters are overflowing with calzones and pastas. There are always imported goods I want to buy, Italian deserts, and gargantuan homemade garlic loafs of bread. During my most recent saunter through this market I felt compelled to buy the richest, creamiest mascarpone cheese.
I made a surprisingly light and bright sauce that we used as both a pasta sauce and a pizza sauce. Inspired by spring, I also bought anything crisp and green to throw in with the noodles. We made the pizza two nights in a row because we loved it so much, it is really rich and sultry topped with artichokes marinated in olive oil and briny black olives.
As much as we are ready to move “home”, I’m finding pockets of my life here in Connecticut filled with people and places, that are comfortable and warm in my mind’s eye, and I guess that is what home feels like?
½ cup mascarpone cheese
juice ½ lemon
1 tsp lemon zest
1 garlic clove, minced and smashed smooth
salt and cracked pepper
pinch of nutmeg
Mix all ingredients together. It will have the consistency of cream cheese, but this will melt over the hot noodles. If it still is too thick, reserve a little pasta water to thin.
1 shallot, minced
1 tbs butter
1 tbs olive oil
1 bunch asparagus, cut on bias
6-8 artichoke hearts, either fresh or fresh frozen, cut into fourths
1 cup green peas
salt and pepper
1 pound farfalle noodles
Boil noodles in salted water until al dente. While pasta is cooking, in a large pan, heat butter and olive oil over medium heat. Add shallot, cook until translucent. Add veggies and season with salt and pepper. Cook until vegetables are tender but crisp. Drain noodles, reserving about ¼ cup pasta water. While noodles are hot, add mascarpone sauce. If needed add pasta water to thin the sauce. Mix in vegetables. Garnish with chives and a little lemon zest.
favorite pizza dough, homemade or store bought
3-4 large artichoke hearts, marinated in olive oil, sliced thinly lengthwise
large handful of pitted marinated black olives, cut in half
handful of grated Parmesan cheese
Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Put in pizza stone or pizza pan to get hot. Have pizza dough come to room temperature (if refrigerated). Roll out pizza dough on a lightly floured surface. If using a pizza pan, remove from oven when hot. Drizzle olive oil directly onto pan and sprinkle semolina flour over the oil. Then place the pizza dough onto the pan. This will ensure a nice crispy crust. Then build the pizza, beginning with the mascarpone sauce, then top with artichoke hearts and olives. Sprinkle Parmesan cheese over the top. Then brush the crust with olive oil (I just use the extra oil that the artichokes came in) and place in the oven. Bake for 10-15 minutes until crust is crispy and golden.
I served this pizza with a handful of baby greens on the top, tossed in olive oil and lemon juice for a little freshness.
* If using a pizza stone, build your pizza on your pizza paddle with semolina flour under the pizza dough, skipping the olive oil. Build your pizza and then slide onto the pizza stone. You can still brush the crust with olive oil.
Eat together, toast to each other, and share!