Sunday, March 11, 2012

You mean there are other pastas ?

I have a confession- I LOVE pasta. It was not always the case in my life. As a child, there were only a handful of varieties seen at our table - elbows, shells, mostacholi, spaghetti , ravioli and egg noodles. Almost always coated in tomato sauce, cream of whatever or on very special occasions, cheese. Pasta was unimaginative, and had uninteresting names. Then one day my husband happened to set foot in what was to become our favorite store due to a car problem, and he noticed that they carried "all kinds of pasta" at a really low price. He is half Sicilian, but his family did not keep up with many of the culinary traditions.  At that time our son, a high functioning Autistic, would only eat pasta morning, noon and night.Pasta varieties at a low price was kind of like finding surplus money in a pair of old jeans. So we returned once the car was repaired, and I felt like I was discovering a wonderful, fun filled world. So many shapes ! So many hysterical names when translated !( orchetti- little ears, vermacelli-little worms,tagliatteli-little cut ones,campanelli- bell shaped pasta,farafelli- butterfly or bow tie shaped and so on). So many shapes, each designed for very specific sauce delivery !

Happily my son's diet has greatly improved, and he is overcoming many of the challenges of Autism . I keep looking for new horizons in pasta, just because it makes me giggle thinking about the translation of the names.. If it combines a fun shape with fresh vegetables , it's even better. This dish was inspired by one that I had seen on an episode of one a show hosted by Giada DeLaurentis, and struck me as a wonderful combo of flavors.

Conchigliette with red onion and citrus

8 cups chicken stock
1 lb small shaped pasta ( I used Conchigliette here)
1 navel orange
1 red grapefruit OR 2 mandarin oranges OR 1 blood orange (flavor preference)
1 red onion cut into moons and sliced thin
1/2 cup olive oil
1/2 cup fresh basil leaves, chopped fine ( or 1 T dried)
1/2 cup fresh mint , chopped fine ( ot 1 T dried)
1 handful fresh spinach, chopped fine
1 t  salt
1/2 t pepper

In a large pan, bring the chicken stock to a boil, add pasta and cook till done. Drain and pour on a cookie sheet to dry out slightly. Meanwhile, zest the navel orange and add the zest to the oil, letting steep for about 5 minutes. Add the salt and pepper and whisk. Gut the zested orange into sections ( remove peel and cut into sections, and do the same with the other fruit. Place the pasta in a bowl, add citrus fruits, chopped herbs and chopped spinach and toss. Drizzle the infused oil on the pasta mix and toss. Serve . This one can be made ahead and left to sit in the fridge for a few hours to let the flavors meld. And giggle at the knowledge that Conchigliette simply means little shells.

No comments: