Posts Tagged ‘pine nut’

Farfalle pasta with Oven dried tomatoes

Monday, January 25th, 2010

Farfalle pasta with oven dried tomatoes by LKWM on dRc
I told you last week how I went gaga over these oven dried tomatoes, so I created a pasta to give them a stage to show off their stuff. But as it turns out, there are so many zippy flavors and satisfying textures here that it seems unfair to give accolades to any one character over another, but here’s my go at it: There are the tomatoes, yes, but also cubes of fresh mozzarella that get all soft and melty when tucked into the warm pasta, and I can’t forget the basil, olive oil, garlic, parmesan, and pine nuts that create a type of deconstructed pesto sauce, picked up by the addition of balsamic vinegar and lemon zest. And the heart of palm…Do you know about this delicate artichoke-esque vegetable harvested from the core of certain palm trees? So wonderful.
Asparagus tips in light by lauraWM on dRc
What I love about pasta is that while you set water out to boil and let your farfalle bobble away in that pot of boiling water, you can use this 20 minutes or so to prepare a couple of ingredients, make a quick sauce – and by the time the pasta is a perfect al dente – Voila!  Dinner is complete.
Heart of palm by lkwm on dRcSliced tomatoes by lauraWm on dRCAsparagus with ends cut by lkwm on dRc
If you’ve ever wondered how much asparagus’ ends to cut off (the ends are quite tough), here’s a quick tip:  hold a stalk at the cut off end with one hand, and hold the middle of the stalk with the other hand, and bend to break. Where the stalk breaks is where it begins to be tender for eating. Use this length as a guide to quickly cut off all the rest of the stalks to the proper length.
Parboiling asparagus by lkwm on dRcDraining pasta and asparagus by lkwm on dRc
If you want to consolidate pots and prep time (who doesn’t?), parboil the asparagus with the pasta in the last couple of minutes of the pasta cooking time. Then simply drain the pasta and vegetable together at the same time. If you are not familiar with the term parboil, it simply means to partially cook, or quickly boil a veggie for 1-2 minutes, lightly cooking it while retaining crispness. Sometimes the veggie is then cooked further (as in a stir fry or risotto) or at other times parboiling is enough.  I like my veggies crisp, so in this dish, I think a quick parboil is just right. Classic parboiling calls for a rinse in cold water to retain color and completely stop the cooking, but I do not like to rinse my pasta, so in this case, I forgo this step for the asparagus in the name of convenience – but you may cook them separately, if desired.
Shitake mushrooms by lkwm on dRcSauteing shitakes with garlic by lkwm on dRcAdding parmesan to pasta by lkwm on dRc
This is a relatively simple dish, and though I adore the oven dried tomatoes here, I have to concede that if you are pressed for time, oil packed sun dried tomatoes would likely work as an acceptable substitute. It makes enough for 6-8 people, so it could easily serve as a beautiful all inclusive company meal.  Or, you might be like my husband and myself, and be happy to have leftovers that do not grow tiresome even on the third night and still taste fresh enough to serve to the unexpected guest – such as S., who showed up on leftover night #3, on a rather predictable spontaneous whim.

Perhaps many things remain seen, or tasted, through rose colored glasses when there are pregnancy hormones coursing through a woman’s veins, but my inspiration for this pasta came from two different dishes around the time of J.’s birth – the first at the baby shower S. threw for me, and the second brought to me directly postpartum. One had olives, peas, and sun dried tomatoes, and the latter – grilled chicken and more olive oil than I have used here – but both delicious, and both nourishing to more than just my physical body.
Oven dried tomatoes in light by LKWM on dRc
Farfalle pasta with oven dried tomatoes
Serves 6-8, may be halved
16 oz. farfalle pasta (I used whole wheat), cooked al dente, with 1/4 cup pasta water reserved
1 bunch of asparagus, (about 30 stalks), tough ends trimmed off (see post) and stalks cut into 2 inch pieces
5-6 oven dried tomatoes, using this recipe (you could substitute 1 jar oil packed sun dried tomatoes, drained)
1 14 oz can of heart of palm, drained and diced into third inch circles
1 large bunch of fresh basil (about 15-20 leaves) sliced into thin strips
3/4 cup + 1/2 cup fresh grated hard Italian cheese – parmesan, pecorino romano (if you use pre-grated cheese, start with 1/2 cup and add more to taste)
8 oz. fresh mozzarella or fontina cheese, cut into 3/4 inch cubes
4 cloves garlic minced, or finely chopped
1 – 1 1/2 cups rinsed and sliced shitake or baby portobello mushrooms
1/4 cup + 1 tablespoon olive oil
1/8 cup + 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
.6 oz package pine nuts, toasted (2 – 3 minutes in toaster oven or skillet – they burn quickly so keep watch)
1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt (to taste)
zest from 1/2 lemon
several cracks of freshly ground black pepper
1. Prepare oven dried tomatoes beginning two and half hours before serving time.
2. Start boiling water for pasta according to package directions to cook pasta al dente.
3. While pasta water is heating and pasta is cooking, slice asparagus, heart of palm,  basil leaves, and mushrooms; mince garlic, zest lemon, grate hard cheese, cube soft cheese, and toast pine nuts.
4. When the pasta has two minutes left to cook, add asparagus to the boiling pasta and water (this is called parboiling, see post). After 1.5 to 2 minutes, drain pasta and asparagus together, reserving 1/4 cup of pasta water (I like to drain my pasta over a wide bowl and then use the “caught” water later, if needed). Drizzle and toss 1 tablespoon olive oil with the pasta and asparagus in the colander to keep moist and prevent the pasta from sticking together.
5. Heat olive oil in large pan till shimmering, add minced garlic and cook for about 30 seconds (do not brown), add mushrooms and cook until just softened through- about two minutes, depending on size and thickness of mushrooms.
6. Add warm pasta with asparagus to the pan.  Add balsamic vinegar, 3/4 cup grated cheese, lemon zest, salt and pepper to taste, and toss to cover pasta.  If pasta needs more moisture, add pasta water 1 teaspoon at a time – or additional olive oil and balsamic vinegar to taste.  Discard unused pasta water.
7. Add rest of ingredients, minus extra grated cheese and basil for topping – or arrange pasta in individual dishes and place remaining ingredients attractively on top.  Top each serving with a spoonful of the grated cheese and sliced basil. May also be served cold or at room temperature.
* If reheating leftovers, its nice to sprinkle the pasta with a few drops of water, bit of extra balsamic vinegar, and a dash of kosher or sea salt to bring it back to five star status.

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