Tuesday, January 16, 2007

"Spicy" "Orecchiette" aka Not-So-Spicy-But-Still-Awesome Farfalle

I've gotten into cooking a bit more lately, mostly because I have this divine new recipe source: the Bon Appetit Cookbook. It was a gift and came with a free year long subscription to the magazine, but we already have a subscription -- mysteriously, since no one will own up to purchasing it for us. It could easily be a "free offer" of some kind, but it's been delivered every month now like clockwork -- seems like a paid gift to me. Shouldn't they include a little note with that type of thing?

Yesterday, I made a "spicy" "orecchiette" with tomatoes, cannellini beans, and broccoli. It didn't turn out very spicy, and I couldn't find any orecchiette at either grocery store I went to, so I used farfalle instead. It was wonderful, and there was enough left over for lunch today for the both of us. I'm pleased to admit that he drank the small bit of remaining sauce straight from the container after the pasta itself had been consumed -- a good sign that it was a hit.

Not-So-Spicy-But-Still-Awesome Farfalle
Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a heavy saucepan.
Add 1 cup diced onion
until onion is clear and soft over medium heat, about five minutes.
2 cloves minced garlic and 1 teaspoon of dried red pepper flakes.
Saute for another minute or so, until the pepper has infused the olive oil a bit.
Now, add 28 oz. of diced tomatoes -- the recipe says canned, but I did half and half (out of necessity, I admit, but it did taste great) and 1/4 cup of water.
Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to medium. Cook until sauce thickens, about ten minutes.
Meanwhile, boil a large pot of water for your pasta. When the water is boiling, throw in about two cups of dried pasta, preferably orecchiette. I used farfalle (also known as "little bow ties," at least when I was young) as I mentioned above. You should begin cooking the pasta when there are about seven minutes remaining on your sauce.
Cook pasta until it is almost al dente, but not quite, stirring occasionally so it doesn't stick. It should be quite firm to the bite. When you think there are about four minutes left for your pasta, add a few cups of uncooked broccoli florets. Tip: chop them up so that they are relatively bite sized; otherwise, they won't mesh well in the dish.
There should be about three minutes left on your clock now, so start corralling the diners while you add one 14 oz. can of rinsed cannellini beans and about 1/2 a cup of chopped fresh basil. Bring the heat on the sauce down to low.
Your pasta should be ready. Take about 1/2 a cup of the cooking liquid (which should be a nice green color) and stir it into the sauce. Drain the pasta and broccoli.
Add the pasta/broccoli combination to the saucepan and stir to coat.
Top with Parmesan cheese. I also recommend putting the dried pepper flakes on the table for extra topping, in case anyone dares to go spicier (which you should, in my opinion, but I like my spice).
Yell at everyone again to get to the table; dinner's ready.
You have yourself a meal. Serves two extremely hungry individuals for both dinner and lunch the next day (cold, which was just as delicious as it was hot). It would also serve four normal, non-ravenous individuals, with some left over.

I loved both making and eating this dish, mostly for it's high vegetable content. Coupled with the barely-there amount of fat, I feel really great about this pasta. I'm also slightly insane about my pasta sauce -- jarred just won't cut it, ever, and this sauce was so quick and easy that it wasn't a gigantic burden to make. Someday I'll share my recipe for authentic tomato sauce (but, like all good chefs, I promise to leave out a key ingredient so that the exact sauce cannot be properly reproduced anywhere but in my own kitchen) but I won't be making it for awhile, since tomatoes aren't in season right now and they're ridiculously expensive at the supermarket. I like to buy heirloom tomatoes during the summer straight from the farmer's market -- you can't beat the price, and they look and taste radically different than the ordinary supermarket tomato. Sorry, supermarket tomatoes, you're nice and all, but I find you... dull.

On that note, I'm off to fantasize about dinner tonight: homestyle macaroni and cheese from the American Heritage cookbook. This recipe dates back to 1803, so it must be good.

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