Recipe of the week
Catalan pasta: A step up from Sunday baked ziti
Baked pastas are great for feeding a crowd, and this one “tastes distinctly Spanish,” said Daniel Olivella in Catalan Food (Clarkson Potter). “The sauce is almost gravy,” combining bacon, mushrooms, and a Catalan sofrito—all topped by a béchamel and manchego cheese.
A store-bought Spanish sofrito will do, but the concentrated sauce Catalans call sofregit is a staple that’s easy to make, if you’re patient. “In Spanish, sofreir means to cook slowly, and slowly cooking the onions is the most important step.”
Macarrons com a casa
¹⁄³ cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 medium yellow onion, finely chopped
1 small green bell pepper, finely chopped
1 can (15 oz) tomato sauce
1 lb dried penne pasta
2 oz dried porcini, broken into small pieces
4 tbsp salted butter
1 small yellow onion, finely chopped
¼ cup all-purpose flour
2 cups whole milk
1 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
1 tbsp vegetable oil
4 oz pancetta or artisanal bacon, cut in ¼-inch pieces
6 oz mixed fresh mushrooms (oyster, portobello, shiitake), sliced
4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
Dash of hot sauce (optional)
4 oz manchego cheese, coarsely grated
Make the sofregit: In a medium saucepan, heat oil over medium-high heat. When it shimmers, add onion and a few generous pinches of kosher salt. Reduce heat to medium-low. Cook until onion is translucent, about 15 minutes. Stir in bell pepper; cook until onion is pale golden and falling apart, about 15 minutes. Add tomato sauce, raise heat to medium-high, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer 1½ hours. Set aside.
Begin the pasta: Preheat oven to 400 and grease a 13×9-inch baking dish. Cook penne in salted boiling water to al dente. Drain and set aside.
Place porcini in a small bowl and cover with 1 cup boiling water, After about 15 minutes, remove porcini and squeeze out liquid over bowl. Set porcini and soaking liquid aside.
Melt butter in a saucepan over medium heat. When butter foams, add onion. Reduce heat to medium-low. Cook, stirring, until onion is translucent, about 15 minutes. Whisk in flour. Cook until mixture bubbles, about 5 minutes. Add milk. Bring to a simmer, whisking until sauce thickens into a béchamel, 2 to 3 minutes. Stir in nutmeg and 1 tsp kosher salt. Remove from heat.
In a large skillet, heat vegetable oil over medium-high heat. When oil shimmers, add pancetta; cook, stirring, about 5 minutes. Add porcini, fresh mushrooms, and garlic. Cook, tossing, until mushrooms shrink, about 5 minutes. Pour reserved porcini liquid through a strainer directly into pan. Stir in sofregit and hot sauce; simmer 5 minutes. Add penne; toss to combine. Transfer to baking dish. Spoon on béchamel, then scatter with manchego. Bake until brown and bubbling, 30 to 40 minutes. Serves 8. ■