Say Farewell to Winter with Bow Tie à la Provençale

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Spring is just around the corner and we are excited for the seasonal change this will bring to the recipes we share with you each week. But, before we say farewell to Old Man Winter for another year, we’re going to send him off in style with our winter recipe finale: Bow Tie à la Provençale.

Bow tie à la Provençale originated at Sarello’s when we first opened nearly fifteen years ago, and I fell in love with it as soon as I tasted it. It has long been a favorite among our regular clientele, many of whom are responsible for its repeated return to our winter menu. In fact, you’ll find it at Sarello’s all this week as our featured entrée special.

The dish was inspired by and received its name from the cuisine of Provence, France; more specifically, the style of cooking found in Nice and its surrounding area, which is heavily influenced by its close ties to Italy. Pasta dishes are common here.

A typical Provençale sauce would consist of tomatoes, olive oil and garlic, and our sauce is further enhanced by the use of blue cheese and heavy cream. White wine is another component, but only as a flavor builder since the alcohol content fully evaporates during the cooking process.

Bow tie ingredients in pan pretoss

To make this dish really sing, we add sundried tomatoes, cooked chicken breast and fresh spinach once the sauce has thickened. Tony embraces the use of sundried tomatoes in winter, when the quality of fresh tomatoes can vary greatly, and you can find them packed dry in bags or in a jar with olive oil. Both are fine for this recipe, just be sure to soak the dry variety in warm water for about 20 minutes before using. If using the oil-packed kind, shake off any excess oil before adding them to the sauce.

Don’t let the fancy name fool you – bow tie à la Provençale is simple enough for even a novice cook to master. I should know, because it’s also become a favorite at home for our son, Giovanni, and this dish is now firmly in my repertoire.

Chicken is a main ingredient, and for this dish we use four whole breasts, each cut in half horizontally and then lightly pounded with a meat mallet until each cutlet is ¼-inch thick. This extra step ensures that the chicken will be tender and moist when cooked. As an added bonus, the chicken can be cooked and refrigerated for up to two days before using.

Chicken cutlets

This dish has some heft to it, so when making the sauce be sure to use a pan or pot large enough to accommodate an entire package of cooked pasta (1 pound), because there’s no going back once you begin tossing the pasta with the sauce. We use bow tie-shaped pasta, also known as farfalle, in this recipe, as its pretty shape is pleasing to the eye and well-suited for a cream sauce. Penne, rigatoni, cavatappi or any medium-sized noodle with ridges will also work well.

Bow tie à la Provençale is rich, tangy and elegant, yet hearty enough to satisfy even the hungriest teenager. The recipe can easily be doubled, and leftovers, if there are any, reheat nicely in the microwave. To usher out winter, we plan to enjoy this pasta dish later this week with a simple salad of mixed greens and red wine vinaigrette, some crusty bread and a good Chardonnay. Welcome, spring!

Tossed bowtie in pan

Bow Tie Pasta à la Provençale

Serves: 4 to 6

Ingredients:
4 chicken breasts, sliced in half horizontally, cooked and cut into 2-inch pieces
1 lb. bow tie pasta, cooked
2 tablespoons olive oil
3 garlic cloves, minced
¾ cup dry white wine
2 cups heavy cream
1 cup blue cheese, crumbled
1 cup sundried tomatoes, roughly chopped
2 cups fresh spinach leaves
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon black pepper
1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese to garnish

Directions:
Slice each chicken breast in half horizontally and use a meat mallet to lightly pound each piece to ¼-inch thickness. Dredge each cutlet in flour, coating both sides, and fry in vegetable oil over medium-high heat until lightly browned and fully cooked, about 2 minutes on each side. Remove from pan, cover and cool for ten minutes and then cut each cutlet into 2-inch medallions. Use same day or refrigerate up to 2 days.

Next, cook the bow tie pasta in boiling water according to directions on package. Drain and set aside.

Use a large sauté pan or stock pot (large enough to hold one pound of cooked pasta),and  cook the olive oil and minced garlic over medium-low heat for one minute.

Add white wine and continue cooking on medium-low until the liquid is reduced by half, about 3 minutes. Add the cream and increase the heat to medium, and cook for another three minutes until the mixture begins to thicken.

Add the crumbled blue cheese and continue cooking over medium heat for another 2 minutes until cheese is melted. Reduce heat to medium-low and stir in the sundried tomatoes. Cook for 3 minutes to infuse their flavor into the sauce; add chicken medallions and cook for one more minute until chicken is heated through.

Add the cooked pasta and toss well so that all the noodles are evenly coated. Season with salt and pepper and adjust as desired. If the sauce appears somewhat dry, add some water, starting with ¼ cup and cook for one minute.

To finish, add the spinach leaves and toss until the leaves just begin to wilt. Transfer to serving platter or bowls and garnish with the Parmesan cheese.

Today’s Featured Valentine Recipe: Red Curry Scallops

Since its debut at Sarello’s ten years ago, our Thai-inspired Red Curry Scallops appetizer has become one of our signature dishes. And with its aphrodisiac qualities, it’s the perfect dish to woo your loved one this Valentine’s Day. Enjoy!

For more information about this recipe, view our blog post from February 2013: Sarello’s Famous Red Curry Scallops

Sarello’s Red Curry Scallops Recipe

Makes:  4 to 6 appetizer servings

All ingredients for this recipe can usually be found in your local grocery store, but we know for a fact that they are available at the Hornbacher’s on 32nd Ave.

Red Curry Sauce:
1 small can or jar of red curry paste
16 oz. coconut milk
2 oz. fish sauce
2 oz. clam juice
1 oz. heavy cream
1 oz. lime juice
¼ cup sugar

Using a medium-sized sauce pan, combine all ingredients over medium-high heat and bring to a simmer. Add a half-cup of the roux (flour and butter mixture for thickening), and whisk until the roux is incorporated and the sauce has thickened. Use immediately or store in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.

Roux:
½ cup butter, shortening, lard or vegetable oil (the more flavorful the fat, the better the roux)
½ cup flour

Melt the butter in a medium sauce pan and stir in the flour. Cook for 10-15 minutes, stirring constantly until a light straw color is achieved. Use immediately or store in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.

Scallops:
12-15 sea scallops
1 red onion, cut into half-inch thick slices
1 cup shiitake mushrooms, quartered (any mushroom will work)
1 cup carrots, julienne (sliced into thin strips)
1 cup sugar snap peas, whole
2 tbsp. fresh basil, chiffonade (cut into thin strips)
1 tbsp. vegetable oil

Using a large sauté pan over medium heat, pour in the vegetable oil and add the red onions. Cook for two minutes. Add the scallops, and cook for another two minutes. Add the red curry sauce and cook for 3-4 minutes.

Finish by adding the vegetables and basil, stirring to ensure all ingredients are hot, and cook for another two minutes. When done, the sauce should be velvety smooth; not as thick as a cream sauce, but thicker than a broth. Pour into serving bowls, serve and enjoy!

Tony’s Tip: To make sure that all the vegetables are crunchy, or al dente, add any vegetables that may take longer to cook, like carrots and onions, first. More delicate ingredients, like mushrooms and sugar snap peas, or shrimp (if using instead of scallops) should be added toward the end because they will cook faster.

Learn to Make Gnocchi with The Lost Italian!

LEARN TO MAKE GNOCCHI:
A HANDS-ON COOKING EXPERIENCE WITH THE LOST ITALIAN
MONDAY, FEBRUARY 23, 2015
$85 PER PERSON (plus tax)

Join Tony and Sarah for this HANDS-ON cooking class and learn how to make potato gnocchi from scratch. Come prepared to use your hands (and elbows, if necessary) and enjoy the relaxed environment of this small group setting, where you’ll work with a partner as Tony and Sarah guide you from start to finish through the art of making gnocchi. Once you’ve mastered the technique, you’ll cook your gnocchi and sit down with the class to enjoy your creation.

Bring only yourself and your enthusiasm – we will provide the necessary cooking equipment and materials. Class fee includes the use of all necessary equipment and materials, copies of all featured recipe(s) and hand-outs, and all food prepared during the class. Beer, wine and cocktails will be available for purchase.

Pre-registration is required as class size is very limited. To register, please call Sarello’s at 218.287.0238 or inquire by email to dine@sarellos.com and write GNOCCHI CLASS in the subject field.

A credit card is required at the time of registration to confirm your space, but no charges will be applied until the date of the event, except in the event of a late cancellation. Gift certificates may not be used for payment for the Cooking Series. Cancellations must be made by Wednesday, February 18 or your credit card may be charged a fee of $25 per person if we are unable to fill your space. Should this occur, you will receive a gift certificate in the amount charged for future use at Sarello’s. 

15 New Year’s Resolutions for Foodies

It almost goes without saying that most of us begin a new year with the resolve to lose weight and/or eat better. And we share this sentiment, too. But what about taking time to actually think about and enjoy our food? What does that even mean?

Over the past week, Tony, Gio and I have been talking about what we’d like to explore in the world of food for the new year, and we came up with a list of our top 15 food resolutions for 2015. Some are personal cooking goals, but most of them are just fun ways to expand our culinary horizons.

1. Try a new cheese each month

We could have stuck with our original idea of trying a new cheese every week, but what would happen if we missed a week? Our intention is to make these resolutions as reasonable, and achievable, as possible and we think we can manage at least one new cheese every month in 2015.

Fortunately, the new and improved Luna neighborhood café on south University Drive in Fargo has a fabulous cheese counter, and Peter Kelly, formerly of The Green Market, is the man behind it. Ryan Nitschke, the executive chef of the soon-to-be full-service restaurant also knows his way around the cheese counter, and we can’t wait to taste their recommendations for 2015. The fact that Luna is located just one block from our house makes this resolution almost too easy to achieve. :)

2. Eat together as a family more often

Tony, Sarah and Giovanni, in the Badlands of Theodore Roosevelt National Park, North Dakota

When I was growing up, my family had dinner together every single night and as I’ve grown older I’ve come to cherish that experience. But with our restaurant schedule, dining together just isn’t a regular possibility for our family and it’s easy to skimp out on preparing a proper home-cooked meal on our days off.

But our 10-year-old son, Gio, loves it when we sit down to enjoy a meal together at home, and we always feel closer as a family when we do. Once a week is a must for this one.

3. Use the good stuff

We have beautiful china that we rarely use, and our goal is to bring it out not just for special occasions, but anytime we dine together as a family. Even if we’re just serving pizza.

4. Try different oils

Extra virgin olive oil and canola oil are the staples in our house, but the world of oil is vast and we’d like to know it better. Tochi Products in north Fargo has a terrific assortment of oils to try, including grape seed, almond, sunflower, sesame and even white truffle oil.

5. Sharpen knives regularly

Sharpening Angle Guide

Photo by Simon A. Eugster (Own work) [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC BY 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

You would think that professionals in the food industry would have the sharpest knives on the block, but the knives in our drawer at home could not be duller. Creative Kitchenat West Acres offers knife sharpening services for a nominal fee, and even hosts free events several times throughout the year. This is the year we’re going to get our knives sharpened, at least once. :)

6. Add more fish to our diet

Fish is so good for us, but is often left out of our regular diets – even though we’ve featured some great fish and seafood recipes here on the blog, including Poached Salmon in Leek Cream Sauce, Shrimp alla Carbonara, Parmesan & Pepper Walleye, Fish Cakes, Seafood Linguini and the famous Sarello’s Red Curry Scallops.

We need to take advantage of all the healthy benefits fish bring to our diets, and thankfully our local supermarkets and restaurants have an abundance of great seafood options to keep this challenge interesting and delicious.

7. Try new foods

This could be as simple as sweet pickles or those cute little red peppadew peppers in the olive bar, as interesting as using exotic spices like saffron or turmeric, or as complex as mastering boeuf bourgignon or foie gras, but the goal is to have fun tasting and making new foods.

8. Seek out new food experiences

In 2014 we were blessed to participate in several new food adventures, including our “Italy on the Prairie” dinner last summer at the Coteau des Prairies Lodge in southern North Dakota, the inaugural “Banquet in a Field” farm-to-table event in rural Cass County (ND), and

Tony even traveled to Santa Rosa, CA to enjoy a lark as a contestant on Food Network’s hit show, Guy’s Grocery Games!

These were amazingly fun events and we enthusiastically say “More, please!” For a simpler quest, you could step outside your comfort zone and try a new restaurant, take a cooking class, check out a health food store, visit a bakery, order something different at your favorite restaurant, or visit a town for its famed local specialty.

9. Master Biscuits and Gravy

Gfp-biscuits-and-gravy

Photo by Yinan Chen (www.goodfreephotos.com (gallery, image) via Wikimedia Commons

Just because we love this classic southern specialty. I’ve made southern biscuits before, but am now in search of the perfect sausage gravy.

10. Bake once a week

Baking is like therapy for me, and I’m seeking some peace and calm in 2015. Baking once a week may be just what I need. I have some staples that I turn to when I just need to bake, like buttermilk brownies, angel food cake, Clipper Chippers (aka, the world’s best chocolate chip cookie) and almond friands, but I’m hoping to add some new items to my repertoire in 2015 and look forward to this challenge.

11. Make time to eat with friends

2010-07-20 Black windup alarm clock face

Food is a wonderful way to connect with others, but we rarely entertain in our home and often turn down dinner invitations, using our busy schedule as an excuse. It’s time for us to make more time to enjoy breaking bread with others.

12. Master a Roast Chicken

Roasted chicken with vegetables

Photo by Phoebe (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Gio was looking through a recent issue of Saveur magazine earlier this month and was practically salivating as he showed me a picture of a gorgeous roast chicken. This comfort food definitely needs to be added to our repertoire.

13. Use location for inspiration

Last summer we were challenged to create almost a dozen different appetizers, each one inspired by a North Dakota crop, for the inaugural Banquet in a Field event. We are grateful to live in an area that is abundant with agriculture, which should give us plenty of inspiration for 2015.

14. Drink better coffee

I’ve always wanted to try making coffee from a French press – this may be the year.

15. Use our cookbooks

We have a huge collection of cookbooks but tend to gravitate toward just a few favorites. We’re going to prepare a new recipe each month in 2015, using a different, and previously unused, cookbook each time.

We’ll keep you posted on our progress throughout the year and hope you’ve enjoyed our list. Tony, Gio and I wish you a very happy, and delicious, new year!Happy New Year 2015