I decided to start a series called Sometimes You Just Want Pasta, because...well... sometimes you just want pasta. Like tonight. I've been eating really healthy the last six nights, laying off any crazy meat or starches. Plus, my neck-shoulder is aching and I'm not feeling so hot. I thought of just making leftovers, but that's not reaching the comfort zone. I want to feel good when I eat tonight. I want to fold myself into whatever it is I'm going to have and then bask in it for awhile. What better dish to do this with than pasta.
I decided right away I wanted something light and bright. So to me that meant no tomato sauce and no meat. I hear all of you meat lovers and traditionalists out there groaning. Well fegettaboutit! Meat and tomatoes have their place in the great shrine of pasta, but they also tend to drown out the flavors. Same thing with fish. Now chicken is pretty balancing, but I don't feel like that either. Nor tofu or torfurky. In fact, as I write this I've decided that Torfurky Pasta is an affront against all Pastafarians (All Hail the Noodly Appendage of the Flying Spaghetti Monster).
So I checked my pantry. When we shop, we tend to stock up. Preppers and certain religions centered around a certain salt lake that shall remain anonymous have a belief that they should be ready for the end times. This is a great belief. Ite's an awesome belief. My wife and I have a similar belief. We believe that we should be ready for the good times so you'll find our pantry stocked with squid ink pasta, Spanish chorizo, lemon flavored penne pasta, sweet pea rissotto base, and a hundred other foo foo items that are a delight to cook. So I noticed the squid ink pasta right away. I think we got a couple of packages at world market. I cooked one and I think my wife didn't like it. Because she's away rwight now and I'm cooking for one, I'm going to absolutely believe that, so that if I'm wrong I won't get into any trouble.
We're also growing herbs in our screenhouse, including a lot of basil. And nothing packs a bright punch to the eye like a whole mess of basil. I always use garlic and diced onion. Always. So while I make my pasta, I fry up the garlic and diced red onion in a little meyer lemon olive oil. After about three minutes on medium heat, I add a quarter cup of good white wine and capers (if it's my house this normally means a Chardonnay). I let this simmer for about seven minutes.
Meanwhile, the pasta is cooked al dente. (there's areason for this). Then I drain it reserving a quarter cup of water. Remember, if you leave the pasta in the water it's going to continue to cook. If you drain it and leave it over the steaming water in the sink it's going to continue to cook too. There's little worse that limp, flacid pasta. Okay. There are a lot of things worse that limp, flacid pasta, but you gotta admit, lim, flacid pasta is pretty bad.
With about three minutes to go on the white wine reduction, I add in the basil whole. This will serve to infuse everything with a nice bright double eye gouge of basil.
After then after the whole seven minutes, I add in the reserved water and the pasta and stir. for two minutes. (See, I told you there was a reason. The pasta is still cooking) Finally I add in the scallions and tarragon. Stir once more, then plate it. The last step is to top the pasta with a little lemon olive oil and shaved parmesan cheese.
1 Package Squid Ink Pasta
1 cup finely diced red oinion
4 tsp dized garlic
4 handful (big hands) of fresh basil
3 tsp capers with juice
grated parmesan cheese
2 tsp tarrogon
.5 cup good white wine
.5 cup meyer lemon olive oil (and more if needed)
Wait? What was that you said? Did you say that pasta can't be black?
Of course it can, silly. Anything can be black. Black is beautiful.
I can't think of any color I wouldn't want to see pasta... well... pink. I don't think i'd like to see pink pasta. It seems so unappetizing. And maybe not orange. Definitely not orange. And blue would be wierd. Kind of like eating Smurf noodles. Definitely not pink or orange or blue. But black is okay. Black is great.
So what do we call this dish?
In italian it would be - linguine nero con basilico e olio d'oliva limone meyer
In Spanish it would be - linguini negro con albahaca y aceite de oliva limón meyer
In Javanese it would be - ireng linguini karo Basil lan Meyer lenga linglang zaitun
I can't even saty that last one. Those are just google translations anyway.
How about calling this Black Summer Basil Pasta?
I bet you can do better.
Give it a good name and I'll put leftovers in an envelope and mail them to you.
Oh yeah, I almost forgot about dessert. It's simple and amazing. Take slices of pear, in this case a red pear, put them in ramicans and microwave for twenty seconds. This will soften them up and break down some cell walls. We want this. Then drizzle fig balsamic vinegar over them and refridgerate for thirty minutes. Trust me.
Weston Ochse is the author of twenty books, most recently two SEAL Team 666 books, which the New York Post called 'required reading' and USA Today placed on their 'New and Notable List of 2012.' His newest novel is Grunt Life and is already in its second printing. Visit him online at www.westonochse.com