Thursday, July 3, 2008

Pasta Party!

I decided to blow everyone’s socks off (that’s right I said it) at my book club this month, so I made a baked pasta dish with cashew cream topping. I apologize for the awful photo. I realize now it looked a lot more appealing on the plate! For the pasta I made my go-to arrabiata sauce that has just a hint of spice. It’s trés simple, considering the delicious results you get. I just start with a couple tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil, add a few cloves of garlic (crushed and chopped) and about a teaspoon of chili peppers. Next I add the sauce and let it simmer for about a half hour. Approximately fifteen minutes in, you can add any veggies that suit your fancy. I used mushrooms and spinach in this. Olives work well too. I spread that out in a pan and topped it with cashew cream (blended up cashews with some water, lemon juice and in this case fresh basil, salt and pepper). I got the idea from Vegan Yum Yum (those peeps are genius!). Then I baked it at 350 for about a half hour, just until the pasta seemed nice and heated through. My friend made a super easy garlic bread for this. She spread Earth blance on a crusty bread, then spread chopped up garlic on it and baked it for about 10 minutes.

A few nights later I made some marinara from a mirepoix base. Mirepoix is just onions, carrots, and celery in a 2:1:1 proportion. You have to be sure to chop up the veggies really small for this sauce, then coat them in as much crushed or pureed tomatoes as you want and cook for about a half hour. I’m not too precise about pasta, because it usually turns out well no matter what you do.

To pair with these recipes, I would definitely consider two different wines. With the baked pasta, go with something acidic enough to stand up to red sauce, but also something earthy enough to match the cashew cream. A fruity youngish California Cab might work or you might want to go to France and try a Côte du Rhône wine. For the mirepoix sauce, I would stick to tradition and go with a Chianti. Chiantis are ideal for red sauce, because they have the acidity to stand up to the tomatoes. I’m not usually a traditionalist when it comes to pairings. I don’t think you need to have a German wine with German food, or sake with Japanese food, etc. I think it’s all about flavor, but marinara is one of those things where you just can’t go wrong with a good Italian wine.

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