Sunday, 18 January 2009

Fusilli alla Crazy Bastard

I am not even going to pretend to you that I picked this recipe for any other reason than it's fabulous name.
I barely even cared what was in it, I had to make it.
Fortunately it is a good recipe and made for a lovely side dish with a Sunday roast chicken, fresh bread and cheese. Plus, I got to exclaim, "Fusilli, you crazy bastard!", all evening long. That never gets old.

Fusilli alla Crazy Bastard - the reason for the name.
This vibrant pasta, tossed with beet greens and creamy goat cheese, is an ode to Charles Barsotti’s 1994 New Yorker cartoon of a rigatoni noodle on the phone to a friend, exclaiming, “Fusilli, you crazy bastard!” Tarry Lodge chef Andy Nusser says, “Mario [Batali] and I saw the cartoon at the same time. It became the punch line to every joke.”

(The bread in the picture is a rustic peasant loaf from Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes a Day)

Fusilli alla Crazy Bastard, Andy Nusser
Food and Wine Magazine, January 09.

1/2 cup walnut halves (I used pecans)
1 pint cherry tomatoes
2 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon olive oil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 pound fusilli pasta
3 garlic cloves, sliced (I used 5)
1/2 pound beet greens, rinsed and coarsely chopped (I used kale)
Pinch of crushed red pepper
1/2 pound soft goat cheese, thickly sliced
1/4 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese

Preheat the oven to 350°. On a rimmed baking sheet, toast the walnuts for 7 minutes, until lightly browned; let cool slightly. Coarsely chop and transfer to a bowl.

Raise the oven temperature to 450°. On the rimmed baking sheet, toss the cherry tomatoes with 1 teaspoon of the olive oil and 1/2 teaspoon each of salt and pepper. Roast the tomatoes for about 10 minutes, until browned in spots.

In a large pot of boiling, salted water, cook the fusilli. Meanwhile, heat the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a large skillet. Add the garlic and cook over moderate heat, stirring constantly, until golden, 2 minutes. Add the roasted tomatoes, beet greens and crushed red pepper and cook, crushing the tomatoes slightly, until the greens are just wilted, 3 minutes.

Drain the fusilli, reserving 1/2 cup of the cooking water. Add the pasta, the reserved cooking water and the sliced goat cheese to the skillet and cook over moderate heat, tossing to coat the pasta. Season with salt and pepper. Transfer the pasta to a bowl, garnish with the chopped toasted walnuts, top with the Parmigiano-Reggiano and serve immediately.

This dish is part of Magazine Mondays, a valiant effort on the part of Cream Puffs in Venice to encourage us all to actually cook from those stacks of delicious foodie magazines. You know who you are.