Archives for posts with tag: whole wheat pasta
painting depicts ingredients for Romanesco with Gorgonzola Over Pasta recipe

Romanesco. 12″ x 12″ gouache and watercolor pencil. Sharyn Dimmick

This week’s farm box included romanesco. Romanesco looks like cauliflower invented by Martians: it has points, spirals, triangular formations and it is often a stunning shade of neon green. You may not have eaten it: I would not have eaten it if I had not subscribed to Riverdog Farm in 2007.

Now, I’ll just tell you that I grew up eating cauliflower smothered with cheese sauce. I would have grown up not eating cauliflower smothered with cheese sauce if I could have managed it, but our family had rules, one of which is that you ate everything you were served. I did not make up this rule, but I had to live with it.

Part of my journey as a cook and as an adult has been to revisit foods I did not care for in my childhood. Some of them stay on the “Do not eat” list: avocado and asparagus have not made it to edible, much less pleasurable, and English peas require careful and judicious camouflage. I still will not eat cauliflower in pale orange cheese sauce, but I will eat it with a sauce featuring two of my favorite things: gorgonzola and cumin seeds.

The same farm that brought romanesco into my life brought me the recipe with which to cook it from the RiverNene CSA in England. I modified their ingredients list and then I modified their cooking method: what I have kept are a little butter, the cumin seeds, some milk and some gorgonzola, although not the quantities of each that I first saw. To get the most out of the creamy, cheesy sauce I like to serve it with pasta. I like whole wheat penne because the darker-colored pasta looks nice with the pale vegetable and sauce and has a nice chewy texture. That said, you could serve it on spinach pasta or tomato pasta for some color and you can eat it without pasta if you are counting carbs.

Romanesco with Gorgonzola over Pasta

Put your pasta water on to boil.

Cut or break your romanesco into florets.

Melt a little butter in a saucepan, perhaps 1 or 2 tablespoons

Fry 1 Tbsp cumin seeds in the butter until aromatic.

Stop the cooking by whisking in 2 Tbsp of flour

Then add some milk — start with 1/2 cup and have more at the ready.

Alternate stirring the sauce and breaking up some Gorgonzola to melt into the sauce. The cheese will help thicken the sauce. If it gets too thick, add a little more milk. If it is too thin, cook it down for awhile or add more cheese.

When your pasta water boils, throw in 1/2 pound of whole wheat penne.

After the pasta has cooked for ten minutes, add your broken or chopped romanesco to the pasta water. Cook for one minute and drain, letting the pasta water fall into a serving bowl to preheat it.

Transfer the sauce, pasta and romanesco to your (drained) serving bowl and stir so that everything gets coated with sauce. Eat while it is warm.

Food Notes: If you don’t have romanesco, you can make this with cauliflower, or even broccoli — it just won’t have the Martian atmosphere. Sometimes I add a few snipped sundried tomatoes into the sauce for the bright taste and the flecks of color: it is winter, after all. Regular pasta works, too. Sigh. The original recipe called for 2 Tbsp of brandy — if you are a brandy-swiller, go ahead and add it to the sauce: I’m sure it tastes delightful.

I like to serve this with a winter salad of raw spinach and sliced oranges. Sometimes I dress it with Orange-Sesame Vinaigrette. However, I had recently read about an orange-tahini dressing and wanted to see if I could put one together (I love tahini and January is a big citrus month). I started by juicing one orange, one Eureka lemon and two Meyer lemons. That yielded one half cup of juice, which I poured into my old Good Seasons cruet (Remember those? They are handy for salad dressings that don’t come in packets!) I added 3 Tbsp Tahini. I tasted it. Now what? I had on the counter some olive oil that I had used to cover roasted red bell peppers. The peppers went onto last night’s pizza, but the oil. I measured 2 Tbsp of the roasted red bell pepper oil. Mmm. That gave a nice roasty flavor. Gotta have salt: I put in 1/2 tsp Kosher salt. And garlic: I pressed 1 small clove of garlic. A little sweetness: in went 1 tsp honey. I thought about putting some cumin in it, but I kept it simple this time — there’s cumin in the romanesco sauce after all.

For a little more heft, I kneaded up a batch of black rye bread, basing it on a recipe by Heidi Swanson of 101 Cookbooks. But I left out the carrots and the caraway and threw in a little orange juice and zest. It’s rising now: I’ll report on it on Wednesday (or not, if it is not worth writing about).

It’s still January, so they are still doing citrus recipes over at #citruslove. They are worth checking out if you like citrus or have a seasonal glut of it like we do.

painting depicts shrimp diablo and ingredients

Shrimp Diablo. 12″ x 12″ gouache and watercolor pigment. Sharyn Dimmick

I have a big binder of recipes that I have clipped from newspapers over many years. When I say, “big binder,” I mean I can’t lift it without both hands and I have been thinking about dividing it into two lately. My binder is loosely organized by main ingredient or type of food: for instance, there is an “Apple” section, but also a “Biscuits” section, “Pork,” but also “Pasta.”

Friday my Mom informed me that she had purchased some Gulf jumbo shrimp for Monday’s lunch. We don’t eat shrimp often because we don’t want to eat shrimp farmed in Thailand. Then she told me she wanted a recipe with a sauce and, of course, it needed to include ingredients we had on hand.

We had no open white wine, which lets out many recipes right there. We do have two bottles of open red, but I did not want to make that substitution in case Merlot was too strong for the shrimp. I took the “Shrimp” section out of the binder and handed her the recipes. “See what you think.”

After some discussion we settled upon Shrimp Diablo. The day she had bought shrimp I had bought a couple of grapefruit. Shrimp Diablo calls for tomatoes and grapefruit juice, dried and fresh chiles. I could use diced canned tomatoes as fresh tomato season is long past and I have always been curious about the effect of grapefruit juice in this dish.

Today I set to work. The first task was to find the New Mexican chiles. I found some expired New Mexican chili powder first and swept it into the garbage — the powder had disintegrated the cellophane packet and another plastic bag (I guess it was powerful in its day — either that or the packaging had been weakened by the New Mexico sun). I found another batch in a glass-stoppered jar (smarter) that had its full strength. Then, hiding on top of the refrigerator among the jars of tea and rice I found the dried chiles.

I put the chiles in a Pyrex bowl with water and nuked them for a minute, covered them with a plate and let them sit while I found the diced tomatoes, opened the can, peeled and sliced garlic, dug the small container of pickled jalapenos from the fridge. Mom said she was going to the store for sourdough bread. I asked her to please get some fresh cilantro.

Meanwhile I sliced five small scallions, measured out a cup of diced tomatoes, zested and juiced one grapefruit, drained the chiles. Then I put on a pot of water for pasta. Uncharacteristically I read the directions, which said to cook the pasta for twelve minutes. At the ten minute mark, Mom had not returned from the store, so I drained the pasta, reasoning that it could finish cooking in the sauce.

Then I peeled shrimp, reserving the shells in a small plastic container to freeze for future stock.

Eventually, Mom returned, bearing cilantro and bread. While I cooked the shrimp, she chopped cilantro and sliced bread and heated bowls. The resulting pasta was piquant, pleasantly hot, with a distinct grapefruit aftertaste. The sauce reminded me of cioppino and was great for soaking up with bread.

Shrimp Diablo (modified from a camping food recipe, originally published in the Contra Costa Times)

For four servings you will need a pound of jumbo shrimp and half a pound of whole wheat pasta. If you will not be satisfied with that quantity, go ahead and adjust the recipe for more pasta or more shrimp

Nuke 1 large dried red New Mexican chile in a glass bowl with a little water for one minute. Cover said chile with plate while you continue with the recipe.

Measure 1 cup diced tomatoes into your blender or food processor (or use 1 large tomato during tomato season).

Peek 5 cloves of garlic and slice or chop roughly. Add to tomatoes in blender

Mince 2 jalapenos or toss in 1 Tbsp of pickled jalapeno rings

Zest 1 grapefruit. Add zest to blender

Now juice the grapefruit (which should yield 1/2 cup juice) and set juice aside for now.

Slice 5 scallions into small pieces. Set aside

Peel 1 lb jumbo shrimp. De-vein if necessary.

Chop 1/3 cup cilantro and add it to blender

By now, your dried chile should be pliable. Tear it into small pieces and add to blender. Whir contents of blender to get a thick, chunky paste.

Put pasta water on to boil for 1/2 lb whole wheat penne

Now assemble next to your stove your tomato-pepper-garlic paste, your reserved juice, your reserved scallions, your peeled shrimp, some olive oil.

Get your pasta cooking before you make the shrimp and sauce, which only takes about five or six minutes.

Heat some olive oil in a good-sized skillet. When oil shimmers, cook the onion. Then add the shrimp and cook until just opaque.

Add the contents of blender and the reserved grapefruit juice. Cook until it simmers and add your drained pasta just until heated through.

Serve in bowls with some good sourdough bread for cleaning up the sauce.

Food Notes: If you don’t like spicy food, cut down on the chiles. If you don’t like chiles at all, skip this recipe. If you don’t like cilantro or are allergic to it, choose some benign herb of your liking. I can imagine tarragon or summer basil. Please make this with fresh grapefruit, which has an incomparable flavor that you just don’t get in a can or frozen. And, yes, you can make it with “regular” pasta, but I don’t know why you would, unless you are out of whole wheat.

By the way, my sister-in-law was here for lunch, just so you know that Mom and I did not eat two bowls apiece. We each had a bowl and there is a small bowl left with two lonely shrimp.

How ’bout that: fresh grapefruit juice and zest makes this fit for a little citruslove, the wonderful January blog hop. #citruslove. Go check out some more citrus recipes here.

Painting note: I did this painting with pigments and brushes only. No watercolor pencils for a change.

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