Last year for Valentine’s Day, we stayed with our tradition of cooking a good meal at home. We’ve never been one to go out on holidays, but rather prefer to share a nice bottle of wine and treat ourselves to a good steak or a fun cooking project. Since Valentine’s Day fell on a Saturday, we decided to spend a large part of our day diving into a project.
We started with a trip to the fish market at Seaport Village, where we bought a fresh octopus. It was fun to get to see all of the local fishermen with their booths up on the dock. We talked to the fisherman about the best way to cook the octopus: dip it into boiling water three times, and then let it simmer for about a half hour. A few youtube tutorials backed him up on this.
I thought the octopus would be delicious in this Creamy Pappardelle with Leeks and Bacon, from Bon Appetit. And it would give us an opportunity to make some noodles from scratch with our new pasta maker.
This pasta was fantastic! Such a creamy sauce, salty bacon and octopus, and a hint of sweet from the leeks.
Fresh Pasta with Octopus, Bacon and Leeks
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
- 4 slices thick-cut bacon, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
- 2 medium leeks, white and pale-green parts only, halved lengthwise, sliced crosswise
- Kosher salt
- 3/4 cup heavy cream
- 2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme
- 1 pound pappardelle or fettuccine (recipe for frebelow)
- 1 cup finely grated Parmesan or Grana Padano
- 1 small cooked octopus, chopped
Heat oil and butter in a large heavy pot over medium heat. Add bacon and cook, stirring often, until fat is rendered and bacon is crisp, 5-8 minutes. Add leeks and season with salt. Increase heat to medium-high and cook, stirring often, until leeks begin to brown, 5-8 minutes. Add cream, thyme, and 1/2 cup water. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer, stirring occasionally, until sauce is thickened and coats the back of a spoon, 5-8 minutes. Meanwhile, cook pasta in a large pot of boiling salted water, stirring occasionally, until al dente. Drain pasta, reserving 2 cups pasta cooking liquid. Add pasta, Parmesan, and 1 cup pasta cooking liquid to sauce and stir to coat. Increase heat to medium and continue stirring, adding more cooking liquid as needed, until sauce coats pasta. Add chopped octopus and garnish with fresh thyme and fresh ground pepper.
Basic Egg Pasta (from KitchenAid)
- 4 large eggs
- 1 tbs water
- 3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1/2 tsp salt
Place eggs, water, flour, and salt in bowl. Mix for 30 seconds until combined. Use a dough hook to knead for 2 minutes. Dump dough on a lightly floured surface and knead for one to two minutes. (If you don’t have a stand mixer with a dough hook, you can hand knead the dough for about 5 minutes). Let the dough rest for 20 minutes. If you have a pasta maker, cut the dough into four pieces, and feed each through the basic roller until thin, and then through the fettucine cutter to make your noodles. If you don’t have a pasta maker, lightly flour your surface and your rolling pin and roll out the dough as thin as you can get it. Super thin is what you’re looking for. You can then cut the noodles with pizza roller or sharp knife.
What is one of your favorite Valentine’s Day meals?