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Saturday, December 18, 2010

0 Recipe #220: Trottole con Salsa di Sette Erbe (Trottole Pasta with Seven-Herb Sauce)

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This is an original pasta sauce recipe I created off the top of my head for tonight's dinner. It's kind of a cross between a pesto sauce & a tomato sauce. It's savory & salty, & its bold & zesty flavor is slightly reminiscent of puttanesca sauce. It also got an enthusiastic two thumbs up from Erik, which is always a good sign. :)

There are still a lot of fresh herbs left over in the fridge & since we're going on vacation soon, it's no surprise that they've all made an appearance in this recipe, hence the reference to the seven herbs. ;) I don't like to leave produce in the refrigerator while we're away, so I'm planning on using the remainder of the perishables before we leave. There isn't much, so it shouldn't be hard to eke out a few more recipes from what's already in the fridge.... That being the case, don't be surprised if a few more fresh herb & veggie-based recipes suddenly pop up on this blog over the next few days. :)


Trottole con La Salsa di Sette Erbe (Trottole Pasta with Seven-Herb Sauce)

Ingredients:
6 c. lightly salted water, seasoned with a drop of extra virgin olive oil (for boiling pasta)
1 c. trottole (a spiral-shaped pasta)
1/4 c. extra virgin olive oil
1 Tbsp. garlic, peeled & roughly chopped (about 2 large cloves)
1/4 c. Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, shredded
2 Tbsp. unsalted, slivered, raw almonds [or pignoli (pine) nuts]
1 Tbsp. fresh basil leaves, destemmed and loosely packed
1 Tbsp. fresh mint leaves, destemmed and loosely packed
1/2 c. fresh Italian flat leaf parsley, roughly chopped & densely packed
1/2 c. fresh cilantro, roughly chopped & densely packed
1 Tbsp. fresh oregano leaves, densely packed
1 Tbsp. fresh thyme leaves, densely packed
1 Tbsp. fresh rosemary leaves, loosely packed
1/8 tsp. fresh Thai ("Bird's Eye") red chili peppers, stemmed, seeded, & de-ribbed (optional)
1 1/2 c. vine-ripened tomatoes, diced (about 2 large tomatoes)
1/4 c. Kalamata olives, pitted
1/2 c. olive brine (from the Kalamata olives container)
1/8 tsp. ground black pepper, or to taste
1 large, fresh bay leaf
1 Tbsp. freshly squeezed lemon juice

Directions: In a medium-sized sauce pot, bring lightly salted, seasoned water to a rolling boil, about 8 minutes. While you're waiting for the water to come to a boil, prepare the sauce: Place olive oil, garlic, cheese, & almonds (or pine nuts) in a food processor, and pulse until the mixture is finely ground. Next, add basil, mint, parsley, cilantro, oregano, thyme, rosemary, chilies, tomatoes, olives, & olive brine incorporating a small batch at a time (via the top feed tube) while pulsing the mixture until it becomes thick and smooth. Set aside.

When water is boiling, add pasta & cook until al dente, according to package instructions. (Safeway-brand trottole cooks in about 8-9 minutes.) Drain into a colander, rinse with cold water, & set aside.

Transfer the contents of the food processor to the same sauce pot you used to cook the pasta. Stir in bay leaf. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to medium-low, cover, & simmer for about 15 minutes. (About half-way through, you can check on the sauce & stir it a bit to make sure it's not sticking to the bottom of the pan. If your stove top range tends to cook quickly, then you might want to turn down the heat even further.) Remove from heat. Season with black pepper, taste, & then adjust seasonings accordingly. Stir in lemon juice. Discard bay leaf. Garnish with additional shredded Parmigiano-Reggiano, if desired. Serve immediately.

Yield: About 2 cups, or roughly 4-6 servings.

Chef's Notes: This sauce will keep in the refrigerator for about 2-3 days, or a week, if you really want to press your luck. ;) IMPORTANT: If you plan to freeze this sauce, it's best to leave out the cheese and add it after you thaw out the pesto. Cheese doesn't freeze very well.

Where to find trottole: Safeway sells trottole, if you've got that grocery chain in your area. Or, if you're having trouble finding it in your area, you can also buy it online through Amazon.com.

Alternate serving suggestions: The sauce in this recipe could also be used as a topping for chicken, fish, or a vegetable dish like steamed zucchini or eggplant, etc. It's probably best matched with Mediterranean-style dishes.

Variations: This sauce would taste wonderful with the addition of fresh mushrooms. Alternatively, you could add different kinds of olives -- cracked green olives, Greek olives, etc. -- instead of the Kalamata olives.

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