Sunday, October 7, 2012

Inspired by Pizza

While I'm not crazy about traditional tomato and cheese pizza, I love more inventive pizza with thin crust.  Locally my two favorite pizza restaurants are Emma's in Cambridge and Za, originally in Arlington and now also in Cambridge.  While I'd score Emma's higher on actual execution, I'd give Za extra points for tailoring their toppings to available local ingredients.  These seasonal offerings comprise the "chalk board specials" and are the inspiration for the following pasta recipes.

PASTA WITH SWEET POTATOES/PEACHES....

Last Sunday Ed and I went to Za's and shared "Kimball Farm's Peach, Caramelized Onion, Smoked Goat Cheese, Pickled Cherry Pepper and Basil" pizza.  I knew I could not duplicate the crust but thought this combo might also work well with pasta.  Just missed the local peaches (Za's in Cambridge has already replaced the peaches with apples) so I decided to use sweet potatoes instead.   While the sweet potatoes should be sauteed, the peaches should be added raw, just before serving.

Saute (heat olive oil first):

1 T extra virgin olive oil
2 oz onion, thinly sliced and halved
2 oz cherry peppers, thinly sliced and halved
1 medium sweet potato, about 6 oz, narrow diameter best, thinly sliced and halved

When potatoes start to soften add:

2 t dark brown sugar

Mix well and continue cooking until potatoes are just barely soft then add:

1 handful basil, coarsely chopped (or sage is a good alternative with sweet potatoes)

Stir until mixed then remove from heat.

While veggies are cooking cook two servings of pasta according to package directions.  I had some  Castellana Trecce di Giulietta (the braids of Juliet), a summer gift, and used 1 cup (dry);  it was excellent. Penne or other shaped past would also be good.

Drain pasta, toss with veggie/fruit mixture and divide between two bowls. Top with

Crumbled goat cheese  


PEACH VARIATION:

Omit sweet potato and follow above directions cooking until onion and peppers are barely soft, with the basil add:

1 large peach, thinly sliced and halved

Stir until mixed and continue following instructions above.


PASTA WITH FIGS, CARAMELIZED ONIONS AND GOAT CHEESE/GORGONZOLA

Another pizza we have recently enjoyed at Za's is "Black Mission Fig, Caramelized Onion, Gorgonzola, Fresh Garlic, EVOO, Truffle Oil and Parsley". Again, I tried a pasta variation modified according to ingredients on hand, substituting goat cheese for Gorgonzola and fresh rosemary for parsley.



Saute (heat olive oil first):

2 t extra virgin olive oil
2 t white truffel oil (or additional olive oil)
2 cloves garlic, minced
4 oz onion, thinly sliced and halved

When onions  start to soften add:

2 t dark brown sugar

Mix well then add:

~8 (6 oz) figs, quartered
2 t fresh rosemary leaves

Stir until mixed then remove from heat.

While veggies are cooking cook two servings of pasta according to package directions.  Shaped pasta works particularly well. Drain pasta, toss with veggie/fruit mixture and divide between two bowls. Top with

Crumbled goat cheese (or Gorgonzola)


Saturday, October 6, 2012

Watermelon Radish


Still more new veggies to try - I found these at the farm stand this week. I'd never noticed Watermelon Radishes before so went on line to see if they are really new.  Apparently not, but maybe one of the vegetables from another culture's cuisine that is gaining traction in this country. The Organic Authority offers a good description of the Watermelon Radish:
"The Watermelon Radish - so unassuming from the outside, resembling a parsnip - but slice it open to find a brilliant fuschia core that resembles that of, well, a watermelon. Also sometimes referred to as a Beauty Heart, Rose Heart, Shinrimei, Misato, Asian Red Meat or Xin Li Mei radish, the Watermelon Radish is an heirloom variety of the Chinese daikon. Compared to other radishes, expect these brilliant babies to be a bit milder and sweeter than regular, and much larger, averaging about three inches in diameter. Generally, their flesh is hotter toward the outside and sweeter toward the center, and they lose pungency as they mature (unlike most radishes). Crunchy and sweet, with just a hint of spice and a flavor,  this radish is reminiscent of jicama. But most of all - it's simply gorgeous!"

The watermelon radish almost justifies owning a mandolin.  Sliced very thin it would make an incredible garnish.  I used some slices to garnish a Carrot Cashew Salad.  Tasty, but not as visually appealing as they would have been thinly sliced.