I don't know about you my lovely lardons, but this chefy mama is crazy about pasta.
I don't care what you do to it. Toss it in garlic oil, top it with tomato sauce, stir it into soup or deep fry it. Just give me noodles... Lots and lots of 'em!
I could eat pasta 24-7 if it wasn't for this little, (er, not so little) thing called a waistline.
Seriously chitlins, I just dig the stuff! My favorite thing to do in my fancy shmancy restaurant chef days was to invent the pasta special. I'd just go into the walk-in (that's fancy chef talk for a really big refrigerator), pick out the leftover bits of this and that, which were just gonna be thrown out tomorrow, sauté or grill them, toss them with some pasta, invent a sauce and... Badda-bing, we had a $12 pasta-of-the-day and it always sold out.
Sometimes I'd get uppity. Squid ink linguini with tarragon crusted baby shrimp anyone... Sometimes I'd get down-home. Come and get yer macaroni and Velveeta! Sometimes I'd just throw everything short of my soul into the ziti. Wild mushroom, artichoke heart, sundried tomato, sweet pepper, asparagus and grilled chicken ziti, please. But it was always fun, zingy, yummy and so easy to make that I felt like I was doing something wrong.
Well darlins, I was not doing anything wrong at all (well, except for that one night in the walk-in with the six foot two German -- but don't get me started). I was just giving in to what we all know, that pasta makes us happy no matter how complicated or how simple it is. It twinkles our taste buds, fills us up and out, makes us feel safe and homey and sometimes it even whistles when we blow into it. Try a big manicotti sometime. Hell, you can call a cab with that thing!
Now then, without further parboiling I give you some perfectly pasticious recipes guaranteed to leave you so carbed out you'll either run a marathon or go shopping.
So bon appetito my little macaritos!
Boil a one pound package of frozen or fresh tortellini. It's ready when it floats to the top like a victim of the mob. Drain the pasta, run it under cold water and toss in olive oil. Leave your pasta in a big bowl and toss in one half red onion finely chopped, one bell pepper chopped, a handful of sliced olives and a good handful of cherry tomatoes cut in half. Then make a dressing out of a shot of balsamic vinegar mixed with a shot and a half of olive oil, a spoonful of Dijon mustard, a heaping spoonful of capers, and a lot of salt of pepper. Adjust the seasoning to your liking and toss with your pasta. Next, cover in a ton of grated Parmesan. I like to add fresh basil too, but you don't have to.
Make an herb butter by letting one stick of sweet butter get soft. Then puree it in a food processor (or mix it up by hand) with a good smidgen of finely chopped tarragon, finely chopped parsley and thin sliced chives. Season the butter with salt and white pepper and put aside.
Meanwhile back at the ranch, have a big pot of boiling water on the stove and drop your linguini in it. While your pasta is cooking, melt your herb butter and let it simmer with a spoonful of fresh minced garlic. When your pasta is done, drain it, toss it in a bowl and add a heaping handful of cooked baby peas, generous amounts of sliced or chopped smoked salmon and your hot melted garlic herb butter. Toss the whole shebang up and garnish with more slices of chives.
in Toasted Sesame Dressing
This one's kinda exotic -- like me. Boil one package of soba noodles (you can find these in most gourmet groceries these days), drain and leave in cold water while you make the dressing. Toast six tablespoons of white sesame seeds and grind in a spice grinder or pound to hell by hand with a hammer or mortar -- or your boot. Puree' two cloves of garlic, the ground sesame, one tablespoon of red miso, two tablespoons of soy sauce, three tablespoons of rice wine vinegar and a pinch of sugar. Drizzle in a few tablespoons of olive oil. Drain soba noodles and toss in olive oil, then drizzle with sesame oil and toss again. Lay in a bowl and pour dressing over. Top with sliced scallions, bean sprouts and red pepper julienne.
Well pistachios, there you have it, three more reasons to pasta down and boogie. By the way, I know I didn't say it, but anytime you boil pasta water, throw in a good drizzle of olive oil and a nice healthy pinch of salt. It just makes life a little better and keeps things from getting sticky and funky, which is, of course, not always a bad thing -- but enough about me.