My Friend Pasta
Pasta has been an easy to make dinner option for me for many years. Pasta is hot, hearty, and delicious! Pasta is so quick that it is quicker to make than deciding to go out and get takeout, or eat out. It was a long dark decade with the Atkin's diet promoting no carbs, especially pasta. I couldn't make pasta for those on Atkin's diet because they wouldn't eat it. I reduced to a few times a year making pasta, because I just wasn't about to cook 2 dinners, one pasta for me, and another meat heavy meal for others. That is too much work. During that dark Atkin's decade, I felt a bit defeated because I didn't have much time to be making dinner, and making other dishes meant more prep work, more cooking, more pots and pans to clean and more flair to getting dinner on the table. During the dark years, I felt like all I was doing was working, cooking, cleaning dishes, and being a slave to the kitchen. Thank goodness Atkin's has receded, and pasta can grace my table again. Pasta is not the enemy, Pasta is My Friend. This is my blog post about my recent odyssey in pasta.
To start off, we ran into Tom Lazzaro at City House about a month ago. Actually, we run into Tom and his wife at City House more often than not. He owns Lazzroli Pasta shop around the corner from City House, and also supplies the pasta to City House. That evening, he mentioned that he just finished making Squid Ink Pasta, and is selling Squid Ink Pasta for the 1st time at Lazzaroli. He made 3 batches of Squid Ink Linguine, and suggested I stop by and try it. So, the next day, I tromped on over to Lazzaroli Pasta shop and got myself a container of Squid Ink Pasta. I tasted a couple pieces raw, and as squid ink is, it is earthy and salty, even though it is of the sea. Tom thinks that the squid ink has a slight citrus flavor to it too. After I tasted the Squid Ink Pasta, I knew what I was going to do.
I made a simple cream and crab sauce. I got a pint of cream from Hatcher Family Dairy, and I got a can of crab. I quickly sauteed some heirloom locally grown garlic minced in some Arbequina Olive oil made from organic olives grown in the Central Valley of CA, then I added cream, a little salt and pepper, and left it on low on the stove to reduce. I drained the crab, and stirred that into the cream. I then poured the cream sauce over the cooked squid ink pasta. To make my plate pretty, instead of just a black pile of pasta, I surrounded the pasta with some heated canned corn kernels. I personally really like eating canned corn, it is comfort food for me, so I was more than happy to put that pretty yellow color on my plate. Mmm Mmm Yumm! Yeah, the Squid Ink Pasta was perfect with the cream sauce. It was delicious, if I do say so myself.
One recent tradition has been eating Penn State Pasta from the Pasta Shoppe down the road from my house. The Pasta Shoppe is run by a really nice family, and they seem to really like what they are doing. They make about 150 different shapes, and one of them is a Pennsylvania State University Nittany Lion Head! Yup, that is correct, they make blue and white Nittany Lion Pasta! So, when I can catch Penn State Football in a bowl game, or any other big game during the year, I will whip up some Penn State Nittany Lion Pasta. This dish was made to celebrate Penn State making it to the Rose Bowl January 1, 2009 against USC Trojans. Before the game started, I thought for sure that Penn State's Quarterback, Daryll Clark, was going to deliver Penn State as the Champions of Roses. It was Clark's 1st Rose Bowl, so I will let him slide, but the game ended with USC winning only 11 miles away from campus. I have a real soft spot for the Rose Bowl Parade and the Rose Bowl, having grown up in So. CA and cheering for the Pac 10. Now that I have seen the true path of football by going to do my graduate school course work at the Big 10's Penn State University, and having gone to the the very 1st game Penn State played as an official Big 10 member, I of course cheer for the Big 10.
Anyway, about this pasta, it was quite simple. Boil up the pasta and drain. Add some whole milk and minced garlic, and some thinly sliced Aged Cheddar from Kenny's Farmhouse Cheese shop. There really is a Kenny, I finally met Kenny this summer, and his cheese is really something tasty. The Aged Cheddar is a semi-dry cheese, but it melted well into my Penn State Pasta to make a really nicely flavored macaroni and cheese. I ate the pasta right before the Rose Bowl Started.
The pasta I used this evening, I hand carried with me from Pittsburgh's Pennsylvania Macaroni Company on the Strip. I was told that the pasta I was using is the pasta made for the Pope. The pasta is known as the Pope's Pasta. If I am not eating Lazzaroli fresh made pasta, I am eating the Pope's Pasta. My foodie friends from Pittsburgh stopped making pasta because they eat the Pope's Pasta and think it is really good. I do too. The texture of the Pope's Pasta has a nice toothy feel, and a nice fresh pasta yellow color that is almost the same as fresh made pasta. That texture and color does not exist out of regular USA dried pasta brands.
So I combined my meat sauce and Pope's Pasta together. It didn't take too long to make this meal tonight. I suppose it took a long time overall because I had to take months grow the herbs, and take hours and hours to dehydrate the tomatoes. But all that was done in September, so today I reaped the benefits of that effort to have a little bit of sunshine on my plate. Mmm Mmm Yumm.