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Posts tagged ‘pasta’

goat cheese zucchini lasagna

On any given day, this is what I see when I open our cottage refrigerator.

It’s an all-consuming battle, us seven 20-somethings versus a never-ending supply of goats’ milk (two gallons a day, to be precise). Fresh it tastes similar to cows’ milk, but after three or so days in the fridge it gets, well… goaty. We all have various tolerance levels for this unfortunate phenomenon—some grin and bear it by grabbing a five-day-old jar and pouring in a third of a bottle of Hershey’s syrup, some (read, me) give yesterday’s gallon a tentative sniff before hastily returning it to the fridge. “Finding out how much milk someone can drink in a day should be part of the Love Apple interview process,” someone joked my first week here, and though I had to laugh I also secretly cringed. I try to hide it, but since I’ve never been a milk drinker I’m the weakest link in our stand against the goats—Marty, Lupe, and Totes—and their prolific udders.

Still, I had a battle plan: cheese. A list of cheese recipes hangs from a magnet on our freezer door, and after consulting it thoroughly I decided I’d attempt cheese making on my days off this week. Armed with a packet of culture, a thermometer, and an enormous aluminum pot, I began with chevre, heating a gallon of milk to 86 degrees and stirring in the ordinary-looking white powder. And then… that was it. You let the milk sit for 24 hours to separate, then strain out the curds to hang for 4-6 hours. It was so easy I made three batches, satisfying myself with a mental tally for the day: goats—plus two gallons, Sara—minus three.

Of course the cheese never lasts as long as the milk. I eat it for breakfast on toast with jam, but cooking with it has inspired a number of dinners this week—eggplant zucchini gratin, goat pesto pizza, and a lasagna/pasta bake of sorts that threw all of the above (minus the pizza dough) together into two baked casserole dishes of cheesy goodness. Served with two-buck-chuck (those bottles are becoming a regular feature in my photos I know), it made for a wonderful Wednesday night. I’m even feeling a little better about milking at 7:30am tomorrow.

Goat Cheese Zucchini Lasagna

We only had a few lasagna noodles left so I ended up cooking some pasta and making that a layer–either way will work. Also you don’t have to make your own pesto and tomato sauce, but if you have fresh basil it’s especially worth the effort.

For the pesto:

several handfuls fresh basil

1/2 cup pine nuts

1/2 cups grated parmesan

2 cloves garlic

olive oil

For the tomato sauce:

3 cloves garlic, sliced

4 cups canned diced tomatoes

For the caramelized onions and mushrooms:

1 Tbsp butter

2 large onions, sliced into rounds

handful of large brown mushrooms

1 lb ground turkey

lasagna noodles (or penne pasta)

2 large zucchini, sliced into rounds

goat cheese, crumbled

salt and pepper

Blend the ingredients for the pesto in the blender until smooth, adding more or less of each depending on your textural preferences. In a medium saucepan, brown the sliced garlic in olive oil, then add in the diced tomatoes and simmer until most of the liquid has evaporated and the sauce looks thick and smooth. Meanwhile, heat butter in a frying pan over medium-high heat, then add sliced onions and mushrooms and caramelize, stirring regularly for about 40 minutes until they are dark brown and gooey. When the onions are done, set aside in a bowl and brown the turkey meat in the same frying pan. In another frying pan, heat olive oil and fry zucchini rounds in batches until each piece is lightly browned on each side. If you aren’t using no-cook lasagna noodles, boil a pot of water, cook your pasta, and drain.

To assemble, lightly oil a large casserole dish and begin layering, starting with the pesto and adding zucchini, pasta or lasagna noodles, tomato sauce, onions and mushrooms, meat, and goat cheese (in any order you choose). Finish with a layer of tomato sauce topped with zucchini and crumbled goat cheese, then bake in the oven at 350 degrees for about 45 minutes, or until sides are bubbling and cheese on top is beginning to brown.

spaghetti carbonara

My tenure as chicken foreman started out well. I was doing my share of egg collecting, keeping an eye out for the crafty hens that mysteriously appear outside the 10-foot pasture fence, and remembering (for the most part) to remind my fellow apprentices to close the main coop at night. I had even taken to letting the girls out at 6 a.m. before my daily laps round the loop at the bottom of the farm driveway. (I run this early so my friends at Love Apple don’t think I’m one of those crazies who blabbers on about runner’s high, but I’ll come clean here and just admit that I am.)

All in all, things seemed to be working out nicely for me with my new assignment. I couldn’t help but admire the chickens in the small coop as I went to collect the eggs there several afternoons ago—though they’re older than the 60 young hens in the main coop, the 10 of them present a lovely picture of speckled, gold, and silvery lavender. As I opened the door and walked up to the laying boxes, I looked at them fondly: they were so peaceful clucking gently around my ankles. I’d forgotten a basket for the eggs, but I made a loose pouch with the front of my t-shirt and began collecting, gathering seven before confidently stretching towards the last box for the remaining two. Unfortunately, then my grip slipped.

It was bad enough that I dropped all seven eggs, which fell in a noisy splatter at my feet. But the chickens (did I call them peaceful?)—they were the real shock. With a din of cackling I was attacked on all sides, beady-eyed heads ravenously devouring the yolks and snapping at the shells. One got a particularly good bite and, with a glop of egg white hanging comically from its beak, took off for a victory lap with several contenders in tow. It was all over in about 15 seconds, but I stood immobilized for minute before grabbing the last two eggs and hurrying down to the garden tent, where my cottage mate Christine surveyed them suspiciously. “There were only two eggs today?” she asked. And then I did something that I’m ashamed to admit—I lied. “Just two. Those older chickens must be really slowing down, huh?”

My egg carnage incident aside, up at the cottage we sometimes struggle to make it through the 60 or so eggs the farm gets each day. Any dish that uses more than a handful is primed for repetition, which is why when Ross and I struck upon spaghetti carbonara the other night I knew we had a winner. We did, evidenced by the fact that I had four servings, then came back to scrape the bowl. And really, that’s why I run—the best part of the runner’s high I know is the wonderful eating that follows.

Ross’ Spaghetti Carbonara

As with all recipes that have few ingredients, quality is key—farms eggs (especially the double-yolkers) are naturally delicious, and we were lucky enough to have Niman Ranch bacon. We didn’t have any parmesan and the results were still amazing, but if you do I’d throw some in—you won’t regret it.

6 eggs

4 slices bacon, cut into small pieces

1 medium onion, sliced

3 cloves garlic, crushed

¼ cup milk

17 oz spaghetti (one package)

parmesan or pecorino romano (optional)

Separate the egg yolks from the whites, putting the whites aside, then beat the yolks until mixed and add the milk to thin. Heat a large saucepan over medium heat and add the bacon, rendering until brown but not crispy. Add the onions and caramelize (you can add a bit of water if the pan gets too dry), then add the garlic to sweat for a few minutes and turn off the heat. In a large pot of salted water, cook the pasta until al dente and strain. Add pasta to bacon and onions (check that the saucepan is no longer hot), then pour in the egg yolks and toss until the pasta is creamy.

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