Food Buzz

Because maybe you do care what I had for lunch...

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Fresh spinach fettuccini with roasted onions and peppers

Perhaps five or so years from now, if I'm still blogging, you'll find a recipe for your own fresh pasta. Until then, thank heavens for Union Markup, which sells lovely fresh pasta at a remarkably (for them) reasonable price. I do love fresh noodles.

I was poking around a Jamie Oliver cookbook at the Coop for ideas the other day. He's got some great people working for him, I'll say that much. I spied a recipe involving roasted onions, tomatoes, and shrimp that looked tasty. The tomatoes currently available, even at the Coop, fill me with despair. And I have a seafood hangup that prevents me from purchasing my seafood from anywhere but Blue Moon at Grand Army Plaza's Saturday greenmarket. But the red peppers still look good this time of year, and if you use enough nuts you'll still get your protein.

I roughly chopped two red onions and two red bell peppers and tossed them with half a pound of pine nuts, drizzled them with olive oil, and added salt. I also halved two artichokes just to see how they'd do. (I rarely use fresh artichokes because they are such an enormous pain in the ass, so much work for so little fruit, and not quite tasty enough to justify the labor.) I roasted at 350 degrees for about 45 minutes, stirring everything around every 15 minutes or so. The onions carmelized nicely and the nuts got toasted.

After boiling the noodles I combined them with the roasted fruit and vegetables along with a couple tablespoons of cream because there just isn't enough milk fat in my life. Then I topped the dish with some grated Gruyere that was still kicking around my refrigerator and some freshly-ground pepper.

I don't know that the roasted foods were really in conversation with the spinach noodles. I could have just as easily used plain fettuccini. But the sweet carmelized onions and peppers really sang with the pine nuts. I am ever so pleased when food this easy to prepare comes out this tasty. It's all about ingredients, folks... well, most of the time.

Jasper napped long enough today for me to make a lemon tart. I used a recipe for the lemon curd from the same Cooks Illustrated I mentioned yesterday and, because the nap doesn't last that long, the crust for lemon bars from the Deseret Cookbook. Since we still have meyer lemons I used those instead of regular lemons, so I toned down the sugar a tad. Once again, those CI people really know what they're doing. If you want the recipe, e-mail me and I'll send it to you.

I mentioned the editorial tone of CI yesterday without explaining the publication's mission. They take a dish and endeavor to find the most effective way to execute it. They test out several different techniques and experiment with ingredients until they find exactly the result they're looking for. They're also careful to tell you specifically what they believe makes a particular dish good -- so it's not some vaguely articulated platonic ideal of the dish that we should all agree is best. It is, for example, the flakiest pie crust that still retains a buttery flavor.

The magazine carries no advertisements and no photographs, only gorgeous illustrations, hence the name. It's actually a beautifully idealistic publication. And if the tone is bossy and pious sometimes it's for good reason. I just bristle at it because I'm an oldest child who hates being told what to do. Ah well, we all have our limitations.


shaunamama said...

I'm an oldest child, too!

Our dear friends gave us a great pasta recipe book for Christmas. It goes into great detail on how to make your own fresh pasta. One of these days I swear I'm going to attempt it. The recipes for the sauces on top are great too, but I have to admit not as fabulous as your recipe sounds! Wow!

Yay for Jasper taking a nap! I'd love that recipe for the lemon tart, by the way. It sounds really good too. Just reading your blog makes me hungry. I must start reading this earlier in the day and not at 11pm.

Swizzies said...

I gotta say, I love Cooks Illustrated. I've been a fan since 1997. I miss it. But I do subscribe to the online version. But admittedly, I do like CI's way of bossing me around in the kitchen b/c I'm not an oldest child, and b/c I am a sucky cook and not great a figuring out things that 'might' work, so the voice of authority soothes me. :-)

ticklethepear said...

Did you see Nora Ephron's essay on the cookbooks in her life in the anniversary issue of the New Yorker? Unfortunately I couldn't find it online.

Anonymous said...

Another oldest child here, but Cook's Illustrated is my bible. I've been subscribing for about five years. My success rate with their recipes is about 95%, and some things I've tried from there have become absolute staples that I go back to again and again: pita bread, spaghetti carbonara, chicken enchiladas, mashed sweet potatoes, pear almond tart, pasta salad with garlic/lemon/olive oil dressing. I really love how they focus on refining and perfecting basic dishes, and then offer helpful variations or different pan sauces, etc.

Anyway, I definitely recommend subscribing. And then you could get one of their cookbooks (my sil loves The New Best Recipe--she made that chili recipe and it was awesome), or subscribe online a la Di, or buy the bound volumes of past issues. One thing you would get by subscribing online is a searchable index, so it's easier to find recipes. That's one thing I'd like, but I can't justify subscribing just for that. Anyway, you won't regret it making Cook's Illustrated a bigger part of your life.

I've also ended up subscribing to Cook's Country, which is a little more down-home and a little less gourmet. I can't remember for sure if I've made anything from it, but I gave a gift sub to my mom, and she and my sister have tried and loved a few things.

Let me know if you want to take advantage of a 2-for-1 gift sub offer or anything like that--there's usually one in every issue.