Weekly Winner:  Punchy, Pungent Pasta

Dang, OK… its been a while.  Apparently life kind of got in the way of posting here but as of last night, I’m back and with a whopper of a dinner recipe.

A word of warning about this week’s entry:  Curry Noodles with Broccoli Rabe and Purple Cabbage is not for everyone.  This is one funky pasta dish!

If you are not a fan of bitter… you will not be a fan of this.  However, if you like spicy red curry paste, bitter broccoli rabe and tons of texture in your bowl of noodles, then run, don’t walk to make this dish.

The recipe comes from a new source for me, the PureWow website.  This is truly an adventure in a bowl.  The soft pasta is coated with spicy red curry paste that gets a hit of salt from soy sauce and some serious funk from fish sauce.  All that is mellowed a bit by the addition of coconut milk.  Then, you get some great bitter crunch from the broccoli rabe and the cabbage and a sweet bite of the shredded carrot.  OK, now that I’ve given you basically the entire ingredient list, you might as well go shopping, get the stuff and make this dish.  If you do, let me know what you think!  It got two enthusiastic thumbs up from this household.

Curry Noodles with Broccoli Rabe  and Purple Cabbage

Serves 4

Ingredients:

Noodles:

1 Tbsp olive oil

1-1/2 bunches of scallions, chopped

1 Tbsp fresh ginger, minced

2 cloves garlic, minced

3 Tbsp red curry paste

1 cup coconut milk

1/4 cup lime juice

2 Tbsp soy sauce

1 Tbsp fish sauce

1 Tbsp honey

12 oz spaghetti

Stir-fried veggies:

1 Tbsp olive oil

1/2 red onion, thinly sliced

3 cups chopped broccoli rabe

2 cubs shredded purple cabbage

1 large carrot, peeled and shredded

Salt and pepper

Optional toppings:

1/2 bunch scallions, chopped

Sesame seeds, to taste

Procedure:

  1. FOR THE NOODLES:  In a large pot, heat the olive oil over medium heat.  Add the scallions, ginger and garlic.  Sauté until fragrant, about 1 minute.
  2. Add the curry paste and cool until it darkens slightly, about 1 minute.  Stir in the coconut milk, lime juice, soy sauce, fish sauce and honey.  Bring the mixture to a simmer over medium-low heat.  Continue to simmer while you cook the pasta.
  3. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.  Add the spaghetti to the pot and cook, according th the package directions.  Drain well and reserve.
  4. FOR THE STIR-FRY: In a large sauté pan, heat the olive oil over medium heat.  Add the onion and sauté until translucent, 4 to 5 minutes.  Add the broccoli rabe and cabbage; sauté until tender, 4 to 5 minutes more.  Stir in the shredded carrot and toss to combine.  Season with salt and pepper.
  5. Add the spaghetti and vegetables to the sauce and toss well to combine.  Divide the noodles among four bowls and garnish with scallions and sesame seeds.  Serve immediately.
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Weekly Winner – Good to the Bitter End

The pickings for this week’s Weekly Winner were a bit slim.  Not because I cooked anything that wasn’t tasty, (gasp!) but because we were on vacation and I didn’t do much cooking at all.  Also, when I do travel, I always prepare ahead of time and have some tasty leftovers in the freezer that can be quickly thawed and reheated upon our return.  But last night I did make Orecchiette with Broccoli Rabe Pesto & Sausage and this week’s winner was decided.

It doesn’t take much for me to like a pasta … I mean, it’s pasta!  What’s not to like?  However this dish was surprising because of all the somewhat bitter notes going on from the broccoli rabe and the pistachios in the pesto.  Trust me.  It works.  This recipe is from Anne Burrell and I think I got it from the Food Network Magazine.

Orecchiette with Broccoli Rabe Pesto & Sausage

Ingredients

  • 1 bunch broccoli rabe, tough lower stems removed
  • 1/2 cup pistachios, toasted
  • 3/4 cup grated parmigiano-reggiano cheese, plus more for garnish
  • Kosher salt
  • 1/4 cup part-skim ricotta cheese
  • 1/2 pound orecchiette pasta
  • High-quality extra-virgin olive oil, for finishing (optional)

Directions

Bring a large pot of well-salted water to a boil. Set up a bowl of well-salted ice water. Cook the broccoli rabe in the boiling water for 1 to 2 minutes and then immediately plunge in the salted ice water. This will prevent the broccoli rabe from being overcooked and will set the lovely green color.

Drain the broccoli rabe and squeeze out any excess water; coarsely chop. Place the broccoli rabe in the bowl of a food processor and puree until it is a coarse paste. Add the pistachios and parmigiano and puree until smooth. Taste and adjust the seasoning; you probably will need more salt. Add the ricotta and pulse until combined. Taste for seasoning once again-it should be full-flavored, slightly bitter and creamy at the same time. Set aside.

Bring a large pot of well-salted water to a boil. (If you are making the pasta right after the pesto, just use the broccoli rabe blanching water.) Cook the pasta 1 minute less than the cooking time on the package.

While the pasta is cooking, place the pesto in a large skillet and add about 1 to 1 1/2 cups of the pasta cooking water; place over medium-high heat. When the pasta is ready, drain and add to the skillet with the pesto. Stir vigorously to combine and cook until the sauce is creamy and heated through, 1 to 2 minutes; add salt to taste. Remove from the heat, add 1 to 2 tablespoons olive oil, if desired, and stir vigorously. Garnish with more parmigiano.