Food Buzz

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

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Pre-compost pasta with juniper berry pork

A couple weeks ago Mark Bittman wrote about making pasta with more, instead of less, sauce. It made sense to that same part of my brain that thinks cupcakes should be 50% frosting. Because that's the best part! Anyway, I rarely cook pasta for the reasons he lists and also because it reminds me of college and because I've just eaten too much pasta in the past and I think it's boring. Whenever I hear or read "I've got a great pasta recipe!" I think, no you don't.

My ideal meal is meat in sauce with one or two vegetable sides and maybe a whole grain like brown rice or quinoa. But there are times when you don't get to the grocery store and feel obligated to use up whatever foods are languishing in the refrigerator. That's actually a time when pasta comes in handy -- a mop for your aging foodstuffs before they become compost.

I chopped a red bell pepper and the last half of a bunch of spinach. These I sauteed in olive oil until soft, and then pureed with an anchovy (what the hell, right?). When smooth, I added in some leftover cooked hubbard squash. Depending on your perspective, the mixture looked either like guacamole or vomit. But it tasted all right -- garlic would have improved it but I didn't have any at the time.

I stirred it all into some cooked taglitale, adding in a little olive oil. Lane and I thought it was pretty good, but Jasper didn't like "that weird pasta."

This is my version of Jurgen Teller food photography. Heh heh.

Meanwhile, I mashed a couple tablespoons of juniper berries and heated them in some oil. Then I browned a pork loin right over the juniper. I lowered the temperature, added a little chicken stock, a little spash of gin, another splash of apple cider, and parts of a pear that was starting to turn, covered, and simmered until done. After removing the pork to rest I reduced the juices into a lovely syrupy glaze.

Speaking of Mark Bittman and vegetables, I'm excited about his new vegetarian cookbook. According to an interview he gave on an NPR show, meat can easily be added to most of these dishes. The idea is to eat more vegetables. I hardly need to advertise for Mark Bittman -- he's doing just fine. But I really like the idea of this book.

When I was doing the CSA this summer I remember thinking, if we're going to make this CSA/locavore thing catch on we're going to need a lot more vegetable recipes! And here it is. So when you go to the farmer's market and bring home something funky you don't quite know what to do with, you can go to Bittman's book, look up the vegetable, and there you go.


Lindsey said...

Can you come live with me? I wish I had 1/100th of the creativity you have in the kitchen.

janeannechovy said...

So, how was the pork chop with juniper berries? Did Jasper like it? You told how you made it, but not how it turned out.

Adriana Velez said...

Oh Lindsey, you've got it going on at Cafe Johnsonia.

Jasper did like the pork chop, but I scraped off the juniper berries for his serving -- texture issues.

Luisa Perkins said...

That sounds good. I love anything that is a compost saver.

Gotta get the new book. I love Alice Waters's Vegetable cookbook, but you can't have enough veg recipes.

And I am SO with you on the pasta sauce/cupcake frosting issue.