Zuni Cafe Goes Italian
Find recipes for favorite dishes from this San Francisco restaurant.
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Try these Italian-inspired recipes from The Zuni Cafe Cookbook.
Asparagus and Rice Soup with Pancetta and Black Pepper
6 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil, divided
2 cups diced yellow onions
salt to taste
1/4 cup white rice
3-1/2 cups chicken stock
1/2 cup water
8 oz. (approximately) asparagus, woody ends trimmed
3 to 4 oz. (1/2 to 2/3 cup) pancetta (or bacon), finely minced
cracked black pepper to taste
In a large saucepan over medium-low heat, warm four tablespoons of olive oil. Add onions and a pinch of salt and cook slowly, stirring regularly. Don't let onions color; they should sweat their moisture and then become tender and translucent in about 10 minutes. Add rice, chicken stock and water and bring to a simmer. Cover tightly and cook until rice is nut-tender, probably 15 to 20 minutes, depending upon the rice you choose. Broth will be cloudy and should taste sweet from onions. Turn off the heat.
While rice is cooking, sliver asparagus and slice it at an angle about 1/8-inch thick. Don't worry if slivers vary a little in thickness; irregularity will guarantee uneven cooking and a pleasantly varied texture. You should get about two cups.
In a 12-inch skillet over medium heat, warm remaining two tablespoons of olive oil. Add pancetta and asparagus, and stir once to coat, then spread them out and leave to sizzle until those at the edge of the pan begin to color. Toss or stir once, then leave to color again. Repeat a few times until mass has softened and shrunk by about a third.
Scrape pancetta and asparagus into broth and bring to a boil. Add a lot of pepper to taste. Boil for about a minute. Soup is best when served while all flavors are still bold and texture is varied.
Makes about 4 cups
Pasta Alla Carbonara
6 quarts water
2 Tbsp. kosher salt
5 oz. (4 to 5 slices) bacon, cut into 1/4- to 1/2-inch segments
5 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
4 large eggs, at room temperature
1/2 cup fresh ricotta cheese, at room temperature
1 lb. spaghetti, penne or bucatini
3/4 cup shucked sweet English peas, mature sugar-snap peas or double-peeled favas
2 oz. (about 1 cup, lightly packed) pecorino Romano, grated and divided
ground black pepper to taste
In a large pot over high heat, bring water seasoned with kosher salt to a rapid boil. In a 12-inch skillet or 3-quart saute pan over low heat, warm bacon in olive oil. Bacon should gradually render a little fat, which will mix with olive oil.
Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, lightly beat eggs and ricotta. Drop pasta into boiling water, stir and cook. When pasta is one minute from being done, add peas or favas to water and raise heat under bacon.
Cook bacon until it is crispy on the edges but still tender in the middle. Turn off the heat, slide pan from heat and swirl it a few times to cool it slightly. Drain pasta, shake off excess water and slide pasta and peas or favas into pan of bacon; you'll hear a discreet sizzle. Place pan back on burner used to cook bacon and immediately pour beaten eggs all over steaming pasta.
Add most of the pecorino and cracked pepper and fold to combine. Work quickly so the heat of the noodles, bacon and bacon fat slightly cooks eggs. Eggs and ricotta will coat pasta and form tiny, soft, golden curds. Serve in warm bowls and garnish with black pepper and remaining pecorino
Serves 4 to 5