Doggie Bag Dinner

Text and photos by Kerri Conan

By the second bite of the first meatball I knew the mountain of perfectly sauced fresh spaghetti dominating the bowl was coming home with me for frittata. I’m actually lying: I knew before the menus arrived at the table.

The pasta at 715 demands over-ordering. Zach Thompson—one of several remarkably talented chefs and bakers in Lawrence, Kansas I’ll be writing about for Mark’s page–makes my kind of noodle. The eggless dough is made daily with a combination of semolina and durum flour and extruded through the bronze die of a vintage Italian-made machine. Slightly oval and undeniably irregular and porous, this spaghetti manages to be tender and chewy at the same time, like bucatini without a hole through the center.

All the better for lightly coating with an intensely flavored, utterly smooth marinara. Zach’s sauce starts by infusing olive oil first with roasted garlic, then straining before gently warming again with lots of fresh basil. Strain the oil once more, combine it with canned San Marzano tomatoes and run the mixture through a food mill.

As I polished off the third meatball, requested doggie bag, and twirled one disciplined last bite of pasta around my fork, I walked through the frittata for dinner tomorrow night. (Here’s Mark’s recipe, too.) Remember to turn on the broiler and swirl a generous pour of olive oil in a broad skillet over medium heat. While thinly sliced shiitakes and garlic sizzled and crisped away, I’d soak the pasta in beaten eggs, knowing they could handle the bath without disintegrating. Add chopped arugula to the mushroom mixture and stir just long enough to soften; fold the hot vegetables into the noodles and eggs for a little pre-cooking action then back to the skillet.

Medium-low heat. Lid on. If the frittata was thin (it was) I’d linger by the stove, watching for the moment when an edge developed but the center still jiggled. Sprinkle with microplaned Parmesan and monitor progress under the broiler until the top barely puffed. Cut into wedges immediately to vent some steam and prevent overcooking.

The results were even better than I imagined. The pasta soaked up some eggs to be sure. But the thin coating of sauce worked like the cocoa on espresso-dipped ladyfingers in tiramisu to provide a barrier between liquid and solid and maintain some structure. The add-ins contributed all the flavors you want from beige and green vegetables. The only loser was my pooch, who has yet to see the inside of a doggie bag.

Posted in Behind The Scenes, Italian

One Comment

  1. Noman said...

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