My two favourite things to do are hike, and eat. While they seem like different pursuits, both revolve around a sense of place, a sense of season, and an intimacy with your surroundings. I'm not the cook in our family, but I like to think I suggest and lend a hand - particularly as it relates to what we might cook (and why). Some of our food adventures are inspired by our outdoor escapades, and this series of PNW Pairings will be the place to document both.
First up, Cypress Falls and Ricotta and Corn-Stuffed Tortelloni.
Cypress Falls is an in-between hike. It's not far from the city, but seems to avoid the crowds of most of the North Shore. It skips high elevation, so is hikable all year, but because it hugs a river it stays cool when the open mountains heat up. It feels like a hike in transition.
You start in a suburb. You meander through a forest path. And somehow you end up in a river gorge where the water cascades through crystal pools that are turquoise and frigid in every month.
Deep in the forest, it could be spring, or summer, or fall. The light streams through without the heat of a summer blaze, but the forest floor stays lush and so, so green.
It's a hike that speaks to summer with blackberry brambles and the ability to jump in for private dips, but gently reminds you of a fall just around the corner.
It's also a quick hike, so if you're on your way (coffee in hand) before 9, you'll be home before lunch. Just in time to make a feast with summer ingredients and the heartiness of fall.
Like Ricotta & Corn-stuffed Tortelloni in a Cherry Tomato Sauce, with Swiss Chard and a Watermelon-Mint salad on the side.
To make the pasta (a rav egg dough, per Flour + Water):
- 2 cups flour
- 2 whole eggs
- 5 egg yolks
- 1.5 teaspoons olive oil
Place 2 cups of unsifted flour on a dry, clean work surface (forming a mound 8-10 inches in diameter). Sprinkle 1 teaspoon of salt in the middle of the mound. Create a well 4-5" wide in the flour. Mix 2 eggs, 5 egg yolks and 1.5 teaspoons of olive oil into a separate bowl, and then add into the well. Start to incorporate the flour walls by stirring the egg mixture with a fork, while disturbing the flour base as little as possible. When the dough starts to become a solid mass, start folding and forming the dough with your hands. Knead for 10-15 minutes (by driving the heel of your dominant hand into the dough, pushing down and releasing, and then using your other hand to pick up and rotate the dough on itself 45 degrees. You should work up a sweat.) After 15 minutes, tightly wrap the dough in plastic wrap and let it rest for 30 minutes to a few hours. Finally, roll out the dough (ideally in a pasta maker). (There is a lot of nuance to this, and I highly recommend getting a book like Flour + Water... or a husband like Mat!)
To make the filling:
- 3 ears of corn
- 1 lime
- 1 cup of ricotta
- 1 egg
- 0.5 cup of parmesan
- Butter and olive oil to sauté
- Salt and pepper to season
Cut the kernels off three ears of corn and sauté in butter and olive oil over medium heat until almost caramelized. Add the juice of one lime and puree the corn in a food processor until smooth. If needed, add a tablespoon of masa harina to thicken. Mix with 1 cup of ricotta, 1 egg and 1/2 cup of parmesan. Add salt and pepper to taste
Assemble the pasta in any filled shape you like. We chose tortelloni, which are made by cutting 2" squares in your pasta dough, placing 1-2 teaspoons of filling in the middle, folding from one corner to the other and sealing around the edges before folding the lower points to meet each other in an 'o' shape.
Cherry Tomato Sauce
- 0.5 red onion
- 1 garlic clove
- 2 cups cherry tomatoes
- 0.5 teaspoon honey
- 2 tablespoons butter
- Salt & pepper to taste
Sauté half a diced red onion in olive oil until soft but not caramelized, add 1 smashed garlic clove and cook for an additional minute before removing from heat. Puree the onion mixture with two cups of cherry tomatoes in a food processor. Return to medium heat for 10 minutes. Puree again - either in a food processor or a blender - until smooth. Simmer for 10 minutes before adding sait, 1/2 teaspoon of honey and 2 tablespoons of butter.
The-Garden-Runneth-Over Swiss Chard
- 1 onion
- 2 garlic gloves
- 2 bunches of swiss chard
- 1 lemon
- Olive oil to sauté
- Pinch of red pepper flakes
- Salt & pepper to taste
In a large saucepan, sauté an onion in olive oil until caramelized. When browned, add two cloves of sliced garlic and a pinch of red pepper flakes. Meanwhile blanch two large bunches of swiss chard (stems removed) in boiling water for 4-5 minutes.. As the garlic is cooking, drain the chard, squeeze out excess liquid and roughly chop. Add the swiss chard to the onion mixture. Season with salt and pepper, and the juice of one lemon. Serve when heated through.
- 1 watermelon
- 2 cucumbers
- 0.5 diced shallot
- 1 cup feta
- 1 lemon
- A handful of mint
- Salt, pepper and sumac to taste
Mix together watermelon (one small, cut into 2 cm cubes); cucumber (two small, peeled and cut into 1 cm cubes); a handful of mint leaves, half a diced shallot and a cup of cubed feta. Dress with the juice of one lemon, season with salt, pepper and a teaspoon of sumac.