Wednesday evening, I decided to whip up some tomato sauce dressed like this:
Perhaps a poor idea, granted, but I was in the mood to wear something other than cutoffs and a tank top (my May-August uniform), and decided that it would be nice to swan about feeling all lovely and elegant in a floor-length skirt while I prepared dinner. (That’s a Calypso skirt paired with a top purchased at Marshall’s, BTW.)
Anyways, around 4PM I got all hungry, as one tends to do during things like afternoons, and started sort of free-associating about what kind of food I’d like to eat.
This free-association technique, by the way, is exactly why I am extremely successful when it comes to perfect orders at diners: when confronted with an impossibly immense menu filled with billions of delectables, I simply close my eyes and come up with a list of ingredients that sound good, and then select a couple of appropriately inclusive dishes. I then picture said dishes – by which I mean picture ordering them, having them set down in front of me, and eating them – and determine which is likely to result in maximum happiness. Sound ridiculous? Jest all you like: next time you are sitting next to me at a diner, just see who has the meal you’re desperate to eat.
That’s right: it’ll be me.
Anyways again, last night my free-association led me to the conclusion that I wanted pasta with a sweet tomato sauce, asparagus, and ricotta.
So I made it.
It was fantastic.
PAPPARDELLE with SWEET TOMATO SAUCE, ASPARAGUS & RICOTTA
What you need:
– 1 package fresh pappardelle (or pasta of choice)
– 1 bunch skinny asparagus
– 1/2 cup ricotta
– 1 large can best-quality whole plum tomatoes
– 1 smallish onion
– 4 garlic cloves
– 1/4 cup white wine
– 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
– 1/2 tsp sugar
– Olive oil
– Sea salt & fresh ground pepper
What you do:
1. Finely dice the onion and mash up the garlic in a press; place in a heavy-bottomed pot with a bit of olive oil and cook over medium-low heat until the onion is soft and translucent.
2. Add white wine to pot and cook down until the smell of alcohol is gone (2 minutes or so).
3. Pour can of tomatoes into pot and simmer gently for 15-20 minutes, or until tomatoes soften and break apart easily when pressed with the back of a spoon. Be careful not to break them apart too early, or the seeds will turn the sauce bitter.
4. While sauce simmers, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and cook pasta according to package directions. For the last 3-4 minutes of cooking time, steam asparagus in the same pot by placing a vegetable steamer into the pot above the pasta (or steam the asparagus in its own pot until just fork-tender). Remove asparagus and cut into 1-inch pieces; drain pasta (reserving a little pasta water, just in case) and set aside (perhaps adding a splash of olive oil to loosen).
5. Remove sauce from heat and stir in balsamic vinegar and sugar. If the sauce seems too thick, just add a little pasta water. Season to taste with salt & pepper.
6. In a large bowl, toss together pasta, sauce, asparagus pieces, and ricotta. Adjust seasoning if needed, and serve.
An alternative serving idea: Separate out the pasta with sauce, asparagus, and ricotta, and let your guests tailor the proportions to their liking. So pretty!
Tip: If serving the dish this way, swirl the asparagus around in a little butter or olive oil and sea salt before plating.
Posted by Jordan Reid, 7.22.10.