May 13, 2011

Risotto Style Pasta with Goat Cheese

OMG! I've made this pasta a couple of times but it has been awhile since we've had it. I have a bunch of the Food & Wine magazine cookbooks because of some stupid Amex deal and they kept coming in the mail year after year before I finally cancelled. I made their Creamy Pasta with Tomato Confit and Fresh Goat Cheese a few years ago, it's so rich that it is more of a once a year dinner, not something you make on a regular basis. It is so good. So good! I love cooking pasta risotto style. Well, I love eating it, cooking it is a total pain in the ass. Seriously, you want me to stir constantly for like 30 minutes??? How do you expect me to chop herbs and shred cheese if I'm stirring the entire time? Here is another absorption style pasta, perfect for spring/summer. Not quite as heavy.

I love that fresh herbs are back in season. I probably put triple the basil on the pasta tonight just because I could. I picked up two giant basil plants at Whole Foods today for $5 each. That's cheaper than buying a little pack of cut basil. I bought the same plants last year and they grew into 4 foot tall bushes. Endless basil, swoon!

The online recipe recommends pairing this meal with a Cabernet Franc but my cookbook recommends a Barbera D'Asti. I bought a few bottles the first time I made this and forgot I had one bottle left so it really mellowed out, it was the perfect match - 2006 Italian Barbera D'Asti by producer Michele Chiarlo. I don't remember it being too expensive and it wasn't super hard to find.

Recipe from Food & Wine
1 cup extra-virgin olive oil, for poaching
3 plum tomatoes—peeled, quartered and seeded
2 thyme sprigs
1 bay leaf
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 small onion, coarsely chopped
Kosher salt
1/2 pound ditalini or other small-cut pasta (1 1/2 cups)
3 1/2 cups chicken stock or low-sodium broth
1/2 cup soft fresh goat cheese (4 ounces)
1/2 cup tightly packed freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano (2 1/2 ounces), plus more for serving
Freshly ground pepper
2 tablespoons snipped chives
2 tablespoons finely shredded basil leaves

1. In a medium saucepan, combine the olive oil with the tomatoes, thyme, bay leaf and half of the garlic and bring to a simmer. Cook over low heat until the tomatoes are very tender, about 15 minutes. Discard the thyme and bay leaf. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the tomatoes to a work surface and coarsely chop them; reserve the olive oil for another use.

2. In a large saucepan, melt the butter. Add the onion and a pinch of salt and cook over moderate heat, stirring, until softened, 5 minutes. Add the pasta and cook, stirring, until golden in spots, about 2 minutes. Add the remaining garlic; cook for 1 minute.

3. Add 1/2 cup of the chicken stock to the pasta and cook over moderately high heat, stirring constantly, until nearly absorbed. Continue adding the chicken stock, 1/2 cup at a time, stirring and cooking until it is nearly absorbed between additions. The pasta is done when it is al dente and suspended in a lightly thickened sauce, about 17 minutes total. (mine went about 25+, altitude probably)
4. Stir the tomatoes into the pasta. Off the heat, add the goat cheese and Parmigiano-Reggiano and stir until melted. Season with salt and pepper, stir in the chives and basil and serve right away, passing additional Parmigiano-Reggiano at the table.

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