Khoi Vinh

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AS DESIGNDIRECTORof the New York Times website,Khoi Vinh has set the standard for extending print publications to theonline world. He draws a parallel between cooking and learning how todesign and code on the web: “A little bit of knowledge andskill leads to more and more, and as you acquire more advancedtechniques, you start to think about how to bring out the artfulnessinherent in themedium.”


Q&A

Where did you buy your ingredients for this dish? The turkey sausage is from the Greenmarket in Brooklyn.

Is that the place you usually buy food,or did you make a special trip?

I go there on the weekends, not every weekend but often enough, to buy select provisions.

If it’s your regular haunt, is theresomething you really love (or hate!) about it?

Wellit’s only open on sporadic days, so that’s an annoyance. In fact, thereare two green markets near me—Prospect Park and Fort Greene Park—butthey’re both open on Saturdays and closed on Sundays, which I think isterribly inefficient. I wish one were open Saturday and the otherSunday. Anyway, that’s my one gripe.

Is this a dish you often make?

I make it pretty often because it’s easy, fast and, in my mind anyway,qualifies as real cooking.

Do you cook often?

I try to cook at least two or three times a week. We live in a part oftown where there aren’t that many nearby restaurants, plus I reallyburned out on the wasteful ritual of ordering delivery, so I like tocook when I can.

Do you draw any connection between thefood you like to make and the kind of design you do? Is your approachto one similar at all to yourapproach to the other?

Heh, that’s kind of a question for apsychoanalyst. If I had to venture a guess, I would say that the linkis that the dish is very basic, simple and, I like to think, fairlyelegant. It’s incredibly not fussy.

When and how did you first learn to cook? Who taught you?

Living in New York, I made it a habit for years to order in, night afternight. At some point, I tired of the waste—both all of the materialsnecessary to package food for delivery and the cost—and I just couldn’tdo it anymore. So I started picking up really simple recipes here andthere and building a repertoire of dishes that I could make on my ownat home, quickly, easily and cheaply. This was over the past threeyears or so.

Then, my girlfriend and I moved out toa wonderful neighborhood in Brooklyn that was not particularly wellstocked with restaurants, so that just exacerbated the need to learnhow to prepare a greater number of dishes at home. We cook a lottogether (she has far more culinary experience than I do), which isfun. I also like to try new dishes and try and push my skills a littlefurther with each one. It used to be that most every recipe seemed toobewildering and ambitious for me. Now, a lot of new recipes seem moremanageable; instead of being intimidated, my attitude is “I canprobably figure that out.”


Subtraction.com-style Rigatoni and TurkeySausage

“It’s basically my ownrecipe adapted from various other recipes and trial and error. I makeit pretty often because it’s easy, fast and, in my mind anyway,qualifies as real cooking.”

INGREDIENTS

  • 24 oz. grape tomatoes, sliced in half

  • 2 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil

  • 6 cloves garlic, thinly sliced

  • 3/4 lb. turkey sausage (loose), spicy or sweet

  • 1/2 lb. mezzi rigatoni

  • Fresh-ground sea salt and fresh-ground black pepper

  • Romano cheese

PREPARATION

  1. Cook pasta according to instructions on package—less 2 minutes so that they remain extra al dente (pasta will go back on heat later). Drain, then flush with cold water to stop from cooking further for now.

  2. Heat olive oil in large, deep skillet about a minute on high, then turn heat to medium.

  3. After a minute, add garlic and let cook until edges start to turn brown. Add turkey sausage and stir/spread with spoon so that it breaks up. Cook approx 5 minutes until it starts to brown.

  4. Add tomatoes, cook for approx 5 minutes, stirring occasionally until tomatoes begin to break down (firmness is gone) and thicken.

  5. Add
    pasta, additional teaspoon of olive oil into skillet, stir/turn pasta
    until fully coated inside and outside. Should take about 2 mins. This ‘bonds’ the flavor to the pasta.

  6. Distribute to bowls/plates, grate cheese on top and add pepper to taste. Add just a very small pinch of sea salt on top.