Monday, July 21, 2014

Pasta with Farmers Market Produce

I was browsing through the book Keepers, looking for an interesting recipe to make, when I happened upon a pasta recipe that looked really interesting. I thought I had all the ingredients, so I embarked.

And then I came to a screeching halt. The recipe called for fresh mozzarella, and all I had was the brick mozzarella. Not even close.

And then things really went off the rails as I changed things and added more ingredients. I'm really happy with this (heck, I ate two bowls for lunch) but it's really nothing like the original, except that it's a pasta dish with fresh tomatoes and some other stuff.

I do plan on making the original recipe one of these days. It's actually pretty close to something I already make, but it's always worthwhile checking out someone else's recipe.

If I make this again (or even the original) I might tone down the garlic a bit. I'm thinking I might gently poach a couple of cut cloves of garlic in the olive oil, so the oil gets the garlic flavor, then discard the garlic or use it for something else. As it is, the garlic is pretty bold.

I got the Ultragrain spagetti from Hodgson Mill with a bunch of other goodies they sent me quite a while back.

The pasta is supposed to be a healthier version, since it includes whole grains and quinoa rather than being 100% white flour. It was a little brown(ish) before it was cooked, but after it was cooked, I doubt most people would notice any difference at all.

Meanwhile, I'm working with Pompeian on a series of posts, so I had a bottle of their Arbequina olive oil open and ready to be used. During a recent tasting, I thought this one was the mildest and smoothest of the varietals, but with more olive flavor than a light olive oil. It worked really well in this pasta dish.

I was not required to post about the Ultragrain pasta, and this is not one of the official Pompeian posts, but since I used 'em I figured I'd mention them. I'm nice like that.

Pasta with Farmers Market Produce
Inspired by Keepers

6 ounces (1/2 package) Hodgson Mill Ultragrain Spaghetti with Quinoa
1/4 cup Pompeian Arbequina olive oil (more as desired)
1 clove garlic
2 scallions
1 large beefsteak tomato
1 small zucchini
1/2 cup chopped kalamata (or other) olives
6 ounces feta cheese
1/2 cup loosely-packed basil leaves
2 tablespoons chopped flat-leaf parsley
Leaves from 2 large springs thyme
Salt and pepper, to taste

Cook the pasta in a large pot of salted boiling water.

Meanwhile, assemble the rest.

Put the olive oil in a large bowl. Mince the garlic and add it to the oil. Slice the scallions thinly - the white and tender green parts - and add that to the bowl. I had red scallions, but the more usual white ones are fine.

Cut the tomato into bite-size chunks and add it to the bowl. Slice, dice, cube, or otherwise cut the zucchini into bite-size pieces. I cut mine in quarters, lengthwise, then sliced it into about 1/4 inch slices.

For the olives (make sure they're pitted) you can leave them whole, slice in half, or just chop randomly and roughly. I used a mix of pitted olives from the salad bar that included both Kalamata and green olives, but use what you like.

Give the mix a little stir.

Cut the feta into bite-size chunks. These will tend to break up after the pasta is added, so you can leave them a little larger than you want the end result to be. Add them to the bowl, then add the basil, parsley, and thyme. Grind on a few generous grinds of black pepper. Hold off on the salt for a bit - the feta and the olives are both salty, so you might not need more.

When the pasta is done, drain it well, then add it to the vegetables in the bowl and mix well. The oil, juice from the tomatoes, and the feta that breaks up will form a sauce. The longer the pasta sits, it will absorb the liquid. Add more oil, if you like.

This can be served immediately as a warm dish, or at room temperature, or chilled as a pasta salad.

If you do serve it chilled, for sure the liquid will all be absorbed by the pasta, so you might want to dress it with a bit more oil before serving, or it might seem too dry.