Monday, March 31, 2014

Going Green

Tomorrow is already April 1st. I pity the fool! Isn't it time for fava beans and morels and garlic scapes and peas?? Well, I haven't seen much in the way of spring veg. In fact, my little local farmers market (apostrophe optional...discuss) has yet to open for the season. It's quite small so they wisely avoid the coldest months and in December, pass the torch to the French Canadians who sell some pretty great looking (and smelling) Christmas trees. No one else wants their space from January to April, I guess, as all that is usually for sale (on the ground) are some VERY used paperbacks. But I confess. I digress. (I'm a poet and I didn't even know it!)

While hoping for some new veggies to finally inspire me to mix things up, I found the most GINORMOUS bushels of parsley at Whole Foods. WTF? Kinda weird, right? Number 1: Are they on steroids? Number 2: When you use parsley, don't you need, like, a chopped tablespoon at most? What does one do with all the rest? Well, I searched for the answer and found a parsley pesto that requires a bit more parsley than a garnish, but you'd really have to double or triple the recipe (and make some tabouli) to use all of the parsley that I had. And as much as you might prefer a basil pesto, which is pretty fabulous, this is super tasty. And, I know that this is totally off topic but…the Mad Men final season starts soon!!

Walnut-Parsley Pesto Pasta
Adapted from Food & Wine

1 cup walnuts
1/2 cup lightly packed flat-leaf parsley with thick stems removed
1 clove garlic, smashed
3 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese, plus more for serving
1/2 cup olive oil
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon fresh-ground black pepper
1 pound cut pasta
1 tablespoon butter

1. In a food processor or blender, pulse the walnuts, parsley, garlic, Parmesan, oil, salt, and pepper to a coarse puree.

2. In a large pot of boiling, salted water, cook the pasta until just done. Drain and reserve 1/2 cup of the pasta water.  Toss the pasta with 1/4 cup of the reserved pasta water, the walnut pesto, and the butter. If the pasta seems dry, add more of the reserved pasta water. Sprinkle with additional Parmesan and pass more at the table. Serves 4 - 6.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Pantry Pasta

What do you make when your fridge breaks down and you leave town for a week? Nothing. You order in, duh. Or you make the most random pasta ever.

Raw onions can be polarizing, but caramelized onions are ah-maz-ing. Add them to sandwiches, salads, dips, pizza, eggs...Why not make them the main ingredient in a pasta? There's no reason not to. Unless it happens to be the first day of spring and you can actually find something green!

Caramelized Onion Pantry Pasta

2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
4 medium onions, thinly sliced
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Toasted pine nuts
Parmesan Cheese

1. Melt the butter and oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the onions and ½ teaspoon of salt and cook, stirring occasionally, until soft and translucent, 15 minutes. Reduce the heat to medium-low and continue cooking, stirring occasionally to loosen any onions that may be stuck to the bottom of the pan, until the onions are deep golden brown, about 30 minutes more.  

2. Meanwhile, cook your preferred pasta according to package directions. Drain and add to the skillet, along with a few tablespoons of pasta cooking liquid, and toss with the onions to coat. Add more butter if desired, season to taste, and serve with toasted pine nuts and Parmesan cheese.