31 May 2010

A new kind of Rosé...Pasta and Wine.

Sometimes life just aligns itself in little ways that make you giggle. Like tonight, when my newest creation turned out to be a new kind of rosé sauce for pasta...as I finished off a wonderful new Rosé wine from Niagara. I know, it's not such a big deal. But all the same, it's a small alignment in the universe and since it's culinary in nature, I'm happy to experience it.

Rosé sauce, in the traditional sense, is a blend of the tangy tomato and creamy Alfredo sauces served up ad nauseum in every cheap Italian restaurant on the planet. For the indecisive, or perhaps the non-committal among us, the blending of two sauces means a little of both worlds. Not to mention, a little less richness, as that Alfredo can be quite the artery clogger.

For me, Alfredo is a no go on a few fronts. One, it's too rich for my blood, and no matter how many Lactaid pills I down, gives me a wicked stomach ache. But more importantly, like souffle, Alfredo is usually disappointing. Done right, it should be a delicate, creamy coating on your pasta, supplementing the dish with silky smooth buttery goodness. Done typically in the churn-out-the-dishes type of restaurant, it's often an overly rich, fatty and overwhelming gluey mess, overpowering everything else in the mix.

So I've never actually ordered a rosé-sauced dish. Perhaps I'm too committed to one thing or the other. Or too scared of Alfredo disapointment. Or perhaps I'm more averse to mixing two mediocre elements to try and make a single right. In any case, tonight's dinner became a bit of a nouveau rosé, and certainly one more friendly to the lactose intolerant among us - as it uses goat cheese instead of the cream and butter of alfredo sauce to achieve the creamy middle ground.

And on the wine front? Well, it's summer, as early as it may be, and that means Rosé season. Long ago written off as a sickly sweet lady drink, Rosé deserves another chance as different regions and vintners kick out their highly crafted versions of this wine. Tonight, I was finishing off the last 1/3 of a bottle of Malivoire Lady Bug Rosé.

We hit Malivoire a few weeks ago on my birthday wine tasting getaway. These guys are not only crafting great wines in Ontario's Niagara Region, but they're doing as they have for the last couple of decades, quietly and without tooting their horns - making it organically. I can recommend not only their Rosé, but just about everything in their line up - the care and precision they put into crafting their wines is evident with each uncorking. Check them out, for sure. And if you drink wine, even if you stay clear of the pinks, give Lady Bug a shot. it's a French-style Rosé, dry, perky, not overly fruity. And it happens to go well with the dish below.

As with everything I write, there's nothing exact about this recipe. We had a leek in the fridge, so I used it. Several colours of peppers, so I used them. But if you don't have leeks, just add more white onion. If you don't have anything more than a single green pepper, so be it. Cherry tomatoes would be great addition (just add them after the onions and peppers are mostly cooked). In fact, you can tailor all the vegetables to your liking, or maybe swap out the sausage for some chicken breast. You'll still get a good, hearty pasta meal that feeds a crew quickly.

So having dissed one kind of rosé while lauding another, let me proceed with the recipe.

1 cup tomato sauce or strained tomatoes (not anything flavoured!)
3/4 cup goat's cheese (ie Chevre)
4 to 5 mild or spicy Italian sausage (Turkey works great)
1 red pepper
1 yellow pepper
1 leek (white part + 1 inch of the green stem)
1/4 white onion (use whole if omitting leek)
2 cloves garlic
2 sundried tomatoes (to make a generous 2 Tbsp chopped)
Basil (fresh, dried, or paste)
Salt & Black pepper
Olive oil
Approx. 3 cups (uncooked) pasta of choice (recommend Penne or Farfalle)

Put your sausages in a heavy frying pan with about 1/2 inch of water. Cover, and bring to a boil. Lower heat to a high simmer.

Fill a large saucepan three quarters full of water, add a bit of salt, and set on the burner to boil (covered, of course).

Wash all your veggies. If using a leek, peel the outer two layers off, and throw them away along with the top 4 or 5 inches of the green stalk. Slice down the centre of the leek on the long side. This makes it easier to wash off the dirt from what's left. Pat it dry. Peel your onion.

Heat up a large sauté pan or wok with about a tablespoon of olive oil.

Chop your peppers into 1/2 chunks. Slice the leek (lay each half flat side down and slice about 1/4 inch thick pieces). Dice the onion. Toss these in the pan with the olive oil, giving a quick toss to coat evenly. Stir gently and frequently to cook evenly - about 6 or 7 minutes.

While the veggies are cooking, finely chop your sundried tomatoes and mince or crush your garlic. If you have fresh basil or parsley, chop up enough to fill a 1/3 cup measure or so. ( If you are using dried, you'll only need about 1 tsp. Paste, about 1 1/2 tablespoons). Set all of these ingredients aside for a moment.

When your peppers and onions and leeks are soft, turn off the heat. Toss in the garlic, sundried tomatoes and herbs. Toss in about two pinches of salt, and grind in a whole lot of fresh black pepper. Then a bit more. Don't skimp.

Give a gentle stir, and remove from heat.

By now you should have your pasta in that boiling water. You want to cook it as per directions -- fresh pasta just a few minutes, white pasta for about 8, and whole wheat pastas for about 10 minutes. A little chewy is a good thing.

Your sausages need you, too. Drain the water from the pan, and put the sausages on a cutting board. Using tongs and a sharp knife, slice them into 1/2 thick rounds. Dump these into the sauté pan of veggies, putting it back over low heat. Allow everything to mingle -- give a few quick stirs every minute or so. Now add your goat cheese, and stir gently to melt it and cover everything in creamy goodness. Turn off the burner.

Quickly drain your pasta, leaving just a bit of the water around to keep things moist. Throw in the tomato sauce, coating the pasta thoroughly. Dump this into your sauté pan (if you're short on space, you can use any large mixing bowl at this point) and mix with the sausage and veggies. Again, stir gently to mix it all up. Taste, adding more salt and pepper as needed.

That's it. Toss this into some large bowls or onto plates. Garnish with more fresh herbs, a bit more black pepper and/or parmesan cheese. If you're veggie-obsessed, a small green salad would go nicely on the side.

What do you get? A mix of flavours - tangy goat cheese with a hint of sassy garlic. Zippy tomato sauce with herby basil. It's a dish of contrasts as much as it is one of like flavours. Hopefully you'll enjoy it as much as we did.

You can serve a small army with this recipe, ie 4 people.

1 comment:

DeeGee said...

Wow Marshal! I'm very impressed! You make it all sound so delicious and the photo sure adds the final touch to your post. I will be trying your recipe, thanks!