Simple, yet Delightfully Tasty Pastas
September 20, 2011
Over the past two weeks I’ve made a few fairly simple, yet really flavorful pasta dishes. I give most of the credit to Pappardelle’s Pasta, available both at the Boulder Farmers’ Market and in the Boulder Whole Foods. Most of the Pappardelle’s flavors we’ve tried are so bold tasting that they require very little in addition. They do have simpler flavors like Cracked Pepper, Santa Fe Corn, Yellow Bell Pepper and Whole Wheat, so there are some types you can use with your bolder sauces.
A couple of weeks ago at the farmers market I saw cannellini beans in the shell, and since I enjoy fresh fava beans so much, I decided it would be fun to try another kind of fresh bean. As I was pondering what to make for the week, trying to think of something to use with the Pappardelle’s Italian Pesto Pasta I bought, I thought that cannellini beans might be good. I planned to just use olive oil, garlic, and basil in addition.
Lulled by a false sense of competency from my experiences with shelling fava beans, I jumped in and started working on the cannellini beans. Well, fava beans kind of have a built-in zipper (if you grab the part on the non-stem end, you can rip it down the side of the bean). This is definitely not the case with cannellini beans. The shells of cannellini beans are much thicker than that of fava beans, and to be honest, if I didn’t have usable fingernails I’m not sure how long it would have taken me. I did finally arrive at a somewhat time-saving technique of sort of breaking the bean right on the bean bulge itself – that seemed to liberate the little guys better than any other technique.
Once shelled, I boiled the beans for about 25-30 minutes. I started checking at about 15 minutes, just because I had never used them raw before, so wasn’t quite sure how long they would take. I swear after around 20 minutes, the vapor coming from the saucepan smelled like gingerbread. Really. That didn’t make any sense to me whatsoever, but I love gingerbread, so I really do know what it smells like. Unfortunately, all of the combinations of search terms I could think of to try turned up nothing on the internet, so…I’m not getting a lot of concurrence with my apparent gingerbread delusion.
Pappardelle’s Italian Pesto Pasta has four different flavors (and shapes) mixed together: Basil, Cracked Pepper, Garlic Parsley and Sun-Dried Tomato. It really did invoke pesto as you were eating it. Aside from shelling the cannellini beans, this was an extremely quick and easy dish to make, but it was really quite great tasting.
Italian Pesto Pasta with Cannellini Beans
1 lb cannellini beans in the pod
5 oz Pappardelle’s Italian Pesto Pasta
3 tsp olive oil, divided
3 cloves garlic, minced
3-4 basil leaves, finely chopped
Shaved pecorino romano
Salt and pepper to taste
Shell the beans, then boil in water until tender, about 20-25 minutes. Drain and set aside. Cook the pasta. With a few minutes left on the pasta, sauté garlic in 1 tsp of olive oil for a minute, then turn off the heat. Drain the pasta, and then toss it with another 2 tsp of olive oil, the garlic, the beans, and several minced basil leaves. Add a little shaved pecorino romano and salt and pepper to taste.
I had been eyeing the sweet potato pappardelle at the Papperdelle’s Pasta stall all summer, but was waiting for fall to try it. So now that it is feeling cooler and the leaves are starting to turn, I finally bought some. This pasta pretty much begs for a butter sauce, so I planned to do browned butter, brown sugar and sage. I had also acquired a red kuri squash (or ambercup – I’m really not sure, I’ve GOT to start taking notes when I buy things), and thought that might be good in addition. I was a little worried it would taste too similar to the pasta, because in the past I’ve made a couple of things with sweet potatoes and squash that were too one-note, but it actually worked really well.
Sauce-wise, I attempted to make brown butter, but that didn’t really end up as anything you could remotely called a success. I’ve tried making brown butter a couple of times in the past and really not had good luck (burned milk solids), so after two failed attempts, I bailed and decided to just finish the pasta off with uncooked butter, letting it melt over the pasta. Two tablespoons of butter was a big splurge for us, but given the rest of the dish was nearly fat free, I just went for it. (We also use Land O Lakes light butter, which has about half the fat of regular butter. Is that shameful for a foodie to use? Possibly. But it helps keep the fat intake down. As my husband pointed out, the decreased fat is no doubt the bulk of why my attempts at brown butter fail, but I’m just not willing to use that much full-fat butter at home.)
I had never tried red kuri (or ambercup – whichever) squash before, so as I was cleaning it I was kind of surprised to find greenish/orange…guts? (I’m not really sure what you call the stuff inside a squash, technically speaking). And there was a lot of it, so that the flesh of the squash was actually pretty thin. I guess that’s why people like to use them for shells for stuffing of some sort. It was a very nice, mellow tasting squash, that I will definitely get again in the future.
Sweet Potato Pappardelle with Red Kuri Squash, Garlic, Onions, Butter and Brown Sugar
1 small winter squash
1/3 cup finely chopped onion
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 tsp olive oil, divided
2 Tbsp butter
1 Tbsp brown sugar
a sprinkle of cinnamon and/or clove, to taste
salt to taste
Hollow out and peel the squash, steam it, then chop it into small pieces. Start the pasta. Sauté the onions and garlic in 1 tsp of olive oil until the onions are translucent, then set aside. Once the pasta is done, drain it, then put it back in the saucepan over low heat with the butter, 1 tsp olive oil, the onions and garlic, and about a tablespoon of brown sugar, stirring until the butter is melted. Add salt to taste. Add cinnamon and/or clove to taste, if desired.
One of my favorite Pappardelle’s Pasta flavors is the Gluten-Free Chipotle Lime. I’m not gluten-intolerant, but I think their gluten-free pastas taste really good, so I haven’t hesitated to buy them. It’s true the texture isn’t exactly the same as regular pasta, but personally I feel the flavor makes up for any differences. Previously I’ve made this pasta with black beans, tomatoes, and guacamole, but I bought A LOT of sweet corn at the Farmers’ Market, so I decided that this would be a perfect use for the first ear. I just did a simple sauce with tomato, garlic, onion, cilantro and chili powder, and was very pleased with how it came out.
Chipotle Lime Pasta with Sweet Corn, Black Beans and Tomato
4 oz Pappardelle’s Chipotle Lime Pasta
1 ear sweet corn
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 small onion, finely chopped
1 large tomato, chopped
2 tsp olive oil (smoked, preferably)
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp sugar
chili powder to taste (I used adobo and chipotle)
freshly ground pepper to taste
Boil the ear of corn in water either on the stovetop or in the microwave, about 8-10 minutes. Once the corn is done, drain and set aside to cool. Start the pasta (this gluten-free type needs 14-16 minutes to cook). Meanwhile, sauté the garlic and onion in a teaspoon of smoked olive oil until the onions are translucent. Then add the tomatoes, salt, and sugar, and cook for several minutes until the tomatoes are softened. Then add the adobo and chipotle chili powders (about three shakes each), ground pepper, and cilantro. Stir well to blend, salt to taste, then turn off the heat until the pasta is done. Cut the kernels off of the corn cobs. When the pasta is done, drain it, then combine everything in the saucepan over low heat to ensure it is well-mixed and heated through.