I felt pretty darn lucky this week
My friend Daniel, a talented graphic designer (he designed the local lemons logo) and photographer, had the opportunity to photograph Alice Waters last week. Alice Waters! I know I mention her often, but my cooking really wouldn’t be the same without her influence. I adore all her recipes, her way of life, her philosophy – and I’ve daydreamed about one day sharing a meal with her.
And, he spoke to her about me! That means I’m on her radar–she knows who I am. I can’t believe it! For me, this is on par with a sports fanatic who gets to meet Tiger Woods or Derek Jeter. I know, I know, technically I didn’t exactly meet her. But that’s okay, I came pretty close, and that’s enough to make me giddy.
If I ever had the chance to cook for Alice Waters, maybe I’d make this pasta dish. It’s seasonal, simple, uses local ingredients (except for the prosciutto di parma, but I think she’d forgive me), and it’s delicious. If you’ve never had burrata before, look for it at your local cheese shop – or sometimes you can find it at Whole Foods. It’s akin to fresh mozzarella, but softer and creamier. The thin outer skin is made from a curd, and the lush interior is similar to un-pulled mozzarella, with the addition of heavy cream. I normally eat burrata on top of a crusty baguette, topped with fruity olive oil and course sea salt.
The inspiration for burrata with pasta came from this month’s issue of food and wine, where it was paired with marinated eggplant. I opted for summer’s sweet corn instead, paired with chunks of prosciutto, dried chilies, homemade breadcrumbs and garnished with basil.
This is definitely a meal to impress. It comes together super fast, and a melange of sweet, salty and spicy comes through with every bite. I wonder what Alice would think of this dish. Or if I’ll ever get that chance to share a table with her. Either way, she knows who I am. That’s enough to make my day.
Sweet corn, burrata and chilies over fettucini
2 ears of corn
1/4 pound burrata
4 dried red chilies, cut into small pieces
1/8-1/4 pound prosciutto di parm (get a chunk and cut it into 1/2 inch pieces)
1/2 cup homemade breadcrumbs (recipe below)
1/2 cup parmigiana reggiano, freshly shredded
1/2 pound fettucini (dried or fresh would work nicely)
Extra-virgin olive oil
Half of a day-old baguette
1 teaspoon sea salt
A small handful of fresh basil leaves
Fill a large pot with water, and while you are waiting for it to come to a boil, start the sauce and the breadcrumbs.
Preheat the oven to 350F. Place all the ingredients for the breadcrumbs in a food processor and grind until small. Spread breadcrumbs in a single layer on a baking sheet, drizzle olive oil on top, and bake for 10 minutes. The breadcrumbs should be lightly browned and dry.
Hold the corn straight up in a large bowl, and using a sharp knife, cut the kernels off all sides of the cob. You can use a cutting board, but using the bowl makes it easier to catch all the kernels.
Heat up a large skillet and add about 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Add the pieces of prosciutto and cook for 4 minutes, or until slightly crunchy, but not burnt. Remove prosciutto with a slotted spoon.
If water is boiling, add fettucini and cook until al dente. Reserve 1/2 cup of cooking water.
Add corn and chilies to the skillet and cook on medium heat for 5-7 minutes, stirring occasionally. Turn the heat to low and add shredded parmigiana cheese and prosciutto, stir for a minute, and turn off the heat. Add a 1/2 cup of breadcrumbs and taste for salt.
Combine fettucini, cooking water to the skillet and toss to combine.
Remove the skin from the burrata, and add half of the cheese to the skillet. Gently toss again. Use tongs to plate the pasta and dot the rest of the cheese on top. Garnish with torn basil leaves, and a last thin drizzle of olive oil.
Where I Shopped:
Gioia burrata, red chilies, prosciutto di parma: The Pasta Shop, Oakland
Corn, basil: Temescal Farmers’ Market, Oakland