Friday, July 18, 2008

Veggie Pasta

1/2 cup of onion, diced
small head of broccoli
2-3 cloves of garlic, minced or pressed
15 or so chives, chopped
15 or so chopped fresh basil leaves
1/4-1/2 cup milk or cream
1/2 cup white wine (or chicken or vegetable broth)
1/2-1 tsp oregano
salt and pepper

Melt butter in a pan. Saute onions. Add broccoli and cook most of the way. Add oregano and garlic and cook till fragrant. Remove broccoli and deglaze the pan with broth. Lower heat and add milk or cream. If it's too thin add tbl of butter or a cornstarch or flour roux. Reduce briefly, then add the broccoli back in. Add salt and pepper to taste. Add basil, chives and pasta. Mix together and serve.


First off, if you aren't familiar with Pioneer Woman you should check her site out. She does good, down home stuff for the most part and sometimes stuff that's all fancy-pants (mostly when her cattle rancher husband isn't home). I have every intention of stealing and personalizing more recipes from her. This is my version of this recipe. I saw it and liked the basics, but I don't care for zucchini or tomatoes (unless they are tomato sauce) so I changed it up a bit. This is really a beta version since I didn't have all the stuff I wanted and it's just too hot to wait for a bus to go to the grocery store. But on the plus side my wonderful sister-in-law brought me to a farmers market on Wednesday and I got some killer onions (check this bad boy out )some fresh broccoli and some chives. I already have a basil plant, so fresh basil is go. So I figured hey, practice. Next time I will be adding peppers, carrots, maybe snow peas, some kind of cheese and anything else I can think of. I will probably make a new post when I do. (cracks knuckles) Let's begin.

First off, like any good experiment I am starting with butter. It's just the right thing to do. I sauteed up the onions and then pushed them into a pile. A buddy of mine told me that this is how you caramelize them. He called it mounding or piling or something like that. He went to Johnson and Wales and is a boundless font of culinary knowledge. This time they didn't really caramelize, next time they will. I assure you. I think that caramelized onion bits in this would be wicked good. Now if you want them to caramelize you need to leave them be for some time on med-low heat (I think), then mix them up and leave them be again, repeat until they are dark brown but not burned. This takes a while and I was hungry. So I turned up the heat, tossed in the broccoli and stirred everything up. I cooked the broccoli for a little bit, till it just started getting some brown spots. At this time I also sprinkled in the oregano. All I have is dried, but it worked fine. Then I added the garlic. At this point if you wanted you could call it done and have a great side dish. I have done it before, it's wicked good. But we are going further. I poured the chicken broth into the pan. Next time I do it I am going to use white wine. After a little thought I pulled out the broccoli, since I don't like it squishy. Get up all the browned bits from the pan. The browned bits are called fond and getting them up with the liquid in the hot pan is called deglazing. That's your culinary vocabulary lesson for the day. Heh. I left the onion in because the texture of it isn't something I'm worried about. Plus it will help infuse the sauce with it's flavor, I assume. Now you want to lower the heat to a low simmer and add the milk or cream. I didn't have cream or else that's what I would have used. But if calories are a concern, like they should be for me, milk is your best bet. Now the sauce looked pretty thin, but I didn't feel like making a flour roux and I don't have any cornstarch or arrowroot. So I added a tablespoon of butter. That helped. It also compensated somewhat for not having cream. I let this reduce just a little bit to thicken up some more then I tossed the broccoli back in. This is also when I added salt and pepper. How much? I have no idea. Several turns of pepper since I love fresh black pepper. I think I've mentioned that. And a couple pinches of kosher salt. Turned off the heat and added the chives and basil. Then I mixed in the pasta. The moment of truth... Mmm. So good. Nice and garlicky, the broccoli is cooked just right (for once!) and the sauce has a nice, rich flavor. Next time I do it I am going to use more basil and I'm going to get my hands on some fresh oregano. Other than that and the other changes mentioned throughout, this experiment was a resounding success. I bet this would be good cold too... I will let you know tomorrow.
Update: Yes! It is good cold. Although if I make it to eat cold specificly I am going to have more sauce.

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