James Beard Award-winning chef Patrick Connolly recently debuted his new American bistro Rider in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, where guests can enjoy playful dishes like schmaltz focaccia and upscale chicken nuggets, as well as more elegant entrées like a soft egg served over foie croutons, sweet sherry yogurt, and caviar, or fregola (a cous-cous like pasta) tossed with turnips, greens, fresh pistachio pesto, and parmesan—essentially springtime in a bowl. Can't make it to Brooklyn to see so for yourself? Try the recipe below.
Fregola + Turnips
1 bunch turnip greens, blanched and shocked
2 ½ cups grated parmigiano reggiano
3/4 cup olive oil
2 garlic gloves, roughly chopped
1 bunch scallions, grilled or sautéed and chopped to 1-inch pieces
1 bunch turnips, small (can substitute in radishes, if desired)
4 tbsp toasted pistachios nuts, roughly chopped
12 basil leaves
12 mint leaves
Zest of 1 lemon
2 tbsp lemon juice
2 cups dry fregola
Salt and pepper
1. Rinse off your turnip greens. Blanch cleaned greens in heavily salted water, then immediately transfer to a bowl of ice water to shock. Roughly chop the greens and put in your food processor. Blend with garlic and cold olive oil until the mixture is smooth and has a thick consistency. Once completely blended, fold in grated parmigiano; add salt and pepper to taste. Set pesto aside.
2. Wash turnips well, dry completely, and quarter. In a 12-inch skillet, heat up 1 ½ tbsp of olive oil until rippling. Put turnips face down in the pan in a single layer—salt and pepper liberally. Let them roast for a minute or so until nicely browned on one side. Toss, and cook for another two minutes. Set first batch aside to cool. Continue until all of your turnips are done.
3. Cook fregola in heavily salted water for 15-18 minutes; strain when it’s just about cooked through and let cool. Note: don’t rinse the fregola under running water.
4. To assemble, put fregola in a bowl with scallions, turnips, pistachio nuts, 1/4 cup pesto, basil, mint, and lemon; reserve some lemon zest, basil leaves, and mint leaves for garnish. Mix thoroughly with a spoon, adding pesto as needed. Continue adding lemon juice and olive oil as needed. Season with salt and pepper to taste and garnish with reserved lemon zest, basil, and mint. Enjoy!