Friday, July 24, 2009

Garden Pasta

I don't really know what to call this, but it's good. I borrowed the idea from something JB made while I was staying with him, and it seemed to come out nicely. Even the kids liked it (when I was pretty sure they wouldn't). We currently have a serious tomato surplus coming from our garden, and so perhaps the most useful bit of this entire meal was that it used up a fair number of them without falling back on the "I'll make spaghetti sauce" plan.

JB's recipe, I think, couldn't be simpler. It seemed to me that he scrambled eggs with a little ginger and garlic and then dumped a huge pile of raw, quartered tomatoes on top, made everything hot, and served it with a bowl of noodles. I expanded on it a bit, and since I didn't feel like making noodles from scratch just now, I used whole-wheat medium-sized shells. Here's the recipe, which fed four with some leftovers:

  • Eight eggs, scrambled in a bowl;
  • Half an inch of fresh ginger root, finely chopped;
  • Two cloves of fresh garlic, crushed and finely chopped;
  • A mess of tomatoes, meaning six or eight medium ones or the equivalent, cut into large bite-sized pieces;
  • Two Nardello peppers, chopped (substitute red sweet peppers);
  • A quarter of a medium onion, chopped, or a few spring onions, peeled, sliced lengthwise, and chopped into inch-long sections;
  • A 13.25 oz box of whole-wheat pasta, medium shells shape (didn't these used to be 1 pound boxes?);
  • Two splashes of red wine vinegar;
  • More canola, peanut, or olive oil than you probably feel comfortable with;
  • Salt, to taste
This really was easy. I put some salt in a pot of water and set it to boil to cook the pasta (always salt your pasta water). It takes a while to boil a pot of water these days, so I start that before I even start chopping up the veg. Then I cut up the garlic (always first) and the ginger, then the onion and peppers and set those in one pile. After that, I washed and cut up tomatoes until almost the whole board was covered with them. That's when I put the eggs in a bowl and added some salt and one of the splashes of vinegar, whisking it together. The water in the pan was getting hot but not boiling then, so I went and grabbed my wok and put some oil in it (not too much yet), putting it over medium-high heat and letting it get good and hot [note: olive oil smokes at a lower tempreature than canola or peanut oil, so probably don't use olive oil for this part or pay more attention if you do]. That's when I added the eggs and started to scramble them in the wok. That's when my pasta water finally got hot enough (whew, I didn't think it was going to work out at that point) and I poured in the pasta and stirred it. When the eggs were almost completey together and starting to brown a little on the bottom, I broke them apart a bit and moved them to the sides of the pan to leave an empty spot in the middle. Insert more oil than you're comfortable with (olive is good now because it's one of the bases for the "sauce"). I put the onion, garlic, ginger, and peppers combo in that oil and let them sizzle a little for a minute or so and then stirred them in with the eggs. After another minute or so, I added the tomatoes, some more salt, and another splash of that vinegar. After stirring it, I covered the wok and let it cook for a few minutes while I drained the pasta. Once the pasta was drained, I removed the lid from the wok, stirred everything around to make sure things were getting good and hot in there, and added the pasta on top with a bit more salt (I have a big wok; it helps!). Finally, I stirred it all up, checked for seasoning, adjusted it, and served it up.

The nice part about this dish is that the veggies don't really break down into a sauce, but they give off enough juice to kind of flavor the whole dish. Thus, you get a nice coating of flavor on the pasta, enough to make it not plain, and still big bites of very fresh-veg tasting tomatoes throughout. It's really a pleasant way to showcase tomatoes from your garden or local market and enjoy a rustic meal perfect for brunches, lunches, dinners, or mid-afternoon "tea."

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