It’s week two of Learning Vegetarian and I’m hungry for more already. To make this experience more interesting, I’ll be switching off every week from making my own recipe to learning from one of our many well-developed chefs in town. I’ll share with you a recipe straight from the chef, as well as a meal that you must order when you check out that week’s restaurant.
This week I was lucky enough to step out of my kitchen and head to Second Home Kitchen + Bar in Cherry Creek, where Chef Jeff Bolton shared with me some of the best flavors I’ve tasted – even better than the bacon I used to eat.
Since I hadn’t yet tasted the creations of Second Home, I not only got to experience the cozy, yet decked out décor, but the incredible smells coming from every corner of its kitchen. I was led to a space where all the ingredients were laid out to make the largest lunch I’ve ever eaten – and possibly the best food I’ve ever put into my mouth.
Chef Bolton started me out with sweet heirloom tomatoes paired with mozzarella. However, the mozzarella wasn’t made yet. Thinking it was going to take hours, Chef Bolton made it look effortless. All it took was mozzarella curds (found at any Whole Foods), kosher salt, 180° water, and a little massaging to kneed the cheese into its well-known consistency. Then ta-da, he made fresh mozzarella with his own hands.
Tip: After making your own mozzarella, Chef Bolton suggests to eat it when it’s totally fresh and still a little warm.
While putting together some complimenting dishes for our giant meal, we started making the star of the hour: the cavatelli pasta. Second Home doesn’t bring in already prepared mozzarella or pasta, so my second lesson was the actual pasta. And here’s where you can join in, because I have the recipe straight from Chef himself.
Make: Ricotta Cavatelli with tomato sauce and parmesan cheese
You want to start off by making your sauce. This will take a little time to simmer and collect all of the delicious flavors you’re looking for. And the pasta…although completely delicious, this takes barely any time at all.
¼ c EVOO
1 medium yellow onion, small dice
1 tbsp garlic, minced
2 tbsp fresh thyme, minced
½ c carrot, minced
56 oz. San Marzano tomatoes, crushed
2 tbsp basil, minced
“Sauté the onion and garlic over medium heat until translucent. Add the carrot and thyme and continue to cook for 10 minutes over low heat. Add the tomatoes and bring to a simmer. Continue to simmer for 45 minutes. Remove from heat and add the basil. “
4 c “OO” flour
1 lg egg
¼ c milk
1 lb ricotta cheese
1 tsp salt
2 tbsp parsley, minced
“Place all dry ingredients into a food processor. Turn the machine on, and add in the wet ingredients. Allow the machine to run until you see a solid ball forming. Turn the machine off and take out the cavatelli. Knead by hand if the dough isn’t fully incorporated. Cut in 1 inch slices and run through a cavatelli machine to get the correct shape. If you do not have a machine, you can cut them into 1 inch by 1/8-inch slices. Boil the pasta in salted water until they begin to float. Serve immediately. “
After the sauce and pasta are cooked separately, be a little stingy with how much sauce you pour over the pasta. You want to be able to taste the pasta, because the flavor is divine. You could also drizzle a little olive oil on top and dash the plate with some Parmesan cheese.
According to those of us who tasted this, you’ll never want to eat pasta sauce out of a jar ever again. Plus, you can impress your dinner party guests easily without breaking a sweat.
Order: Wild Mushroom Risotto
Made with fresh mushrooms from Hazel Dell farm in Fort Collins, this risotto is truly something you can’t recreate. The next time you visit Second Home Kitchen + Bar, remember to order this. The mushrooms are so hearty that even if you’re a carnivore, you won’t miss that meaty texture.
Lindsay is a California native who loves leather bags, killer heels and a bright shade of long-lasting lipstick. She’s always on the lookout for a great guy in skinny jeans, but puts her independence and writing first, traveling to some of the best hotspots in Denver and all over the world looking for a good lede.