Weekly Winner – A Tie for Weirdness

It was a weird and wonderful week – food wise.  So much so that I just couldn’t pick one Weekly Winner and present my first-ever tie.

The first was a fabulous soup with two very unlikely ingredients:  tomatoes and peanut butter.  The result was a wonderful Thai-influenced soup with warm, cozy flavors and the perfect hint of heat.  For the life of me, I can’t remember where I got the recipe so cannot give credit where credit is most-assuredly due.


Serves 6


1 Tbsp olive oil, plus more for drizzling

1 small onion, finely chopped

1 green bell pepper, finely chopped

1 stalk celery, finely chopped

½ tsp Madras-style curry powder

½ tsp paprika

1/8 tsp cayenne pepper

Kosher salt

1 15-oz can crushed tomatoes

4 cups chicken broth

1 tsp packed brown sugar

1/3 cup smooth peanut butter

Freshly ground black pepper

Chopped peanuts, green onions, sour cream or crème fraiche for topping


  1. Heat the olive oil in a pot over medium-high heat.  Add the onion, bell pepper and celery; cook, stirring, about 5 minutes.  Add the garlic, curry powder, paprika, cayenne and 1 tsp salt; cook, stirring, 2 more minutes.
  2. Add the tomatoes, chicken broth, brown sugar and 1 cup water to the pot, then whisk in the peanut butter until incorporated.  Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer gently, stirring occasionally, until the soup thickens slightly, about 30 minutes.  Puree with an immersion blender or in a regular blender in batches.  Season with salt and pepper.
  3. Ladle the soup into bowls; top with crème fraiche or sour cream, green onions, and chopped peanuts.  Drizzle with olive oil.

The co-winner this week was a very unique, almost tangy pasta dish which should be named “tipsy pasta” or “sloshed spaghetti”.  Instead, I simply present Spaghetti Al Vino Bianco.  This recipe comes from Cook’s Illustrated.    Trust me … make this dish.




Serves 4


1 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil

4 oz pancetta, cut into ¼-inch pieces

2 garlic cloves, minced

Pinch red pepper flakes

1 bottle (750 ml) dry white wine (not heavily oaked Chardonnay)

Salt and pepper


1 pound spaghetti

5 oz baby arugula

1/3 cup heavy cream

1 oz Pecorino Romano, grated (1/2 cup), plus extra for serving

¼ cup pine nuts, toasted


  1. Heat oil and pancetta in 12-inch skillet over medium high heat; cook until pancetta is browned and crisp, 4 to 5 minutes.  Using slotted spoon, transfer pancetta to paper towel-lined plate.  Pour off and discard all but 2 Tbsp rendered fat from skillet.
  2. Return skillet to medium low heat and add garlic and pepper flakes.  Cook, stirring frequently, until garlic begins to turn golden, 1 to 2 minutes.  Carefully add 1-1/2 cups wine and increase heat to medium high.  Cook until wine is reduced to ½ cup, 8 to 10 minutes.  Add ½ tsp salt.  Taste and if the wine reduction is too sharp, season to taste with up to 1 Tbsp of sugar, adding in 1 tsp increments.
  3. Bring 4 quarts water to boil in large pot.  Add pasta and 1 Tbsp salt and cook, stirring often, until pasta is flexible but not fully cooked, about 4 minutes.  Reserve 2 cups pasta water, and then drain pasta.
  4. Transfer pasta to skillet with reduced white wine.  Place skillet over medium heat; add ½ cup unreduced wine and cook, tossing constantly until wine is fully absorbed.  Continue to add remaining wine, ½ cup at a time, tossing constantly, until pasta is al dente, about 8 minutes. (If wine is absorbed before spaghetti is fully cooked, add ½ cup reserved pasta water at a time to skillet and continue to cook.)
  5. Remove skillet from heat.  Place arugula on top of spaghetti, pour ¼ cup Pecorino Romano; toss until sauce lightly coats pasta and arugula is evenly distributed.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.  Transfer to service platter and sprinkle with pancetta, remaining ¼ cup Pecorino Romano, and pine nuts.  Serve immediately, passing extra cheese separately.

3 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Phil
    May 13, 2012 @ 00:12:11

    Just discovered that you have this blog. And it’s making me hungry, dammit!


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