EDIT: I reached the end of this blog post, re read and realized that I should give up trying to get this to make sense. Just so ya know, I already know that this post is weird. I’ve come to terms with it, and so should you. And thus this post should have been called, The Pseudotarian Gets an Attitude.
Can I make a confession? … Given my Mediterranean ancestry, it’s a bad one too.
I really don’t care for marinara/pomodoro sauce … or any thick tomato sauce really. I love tomatoes, and I’ll eat a big bowl of spaghetti if it’s served at dinner by family or a friend. But if I’m home alone or cooking for one, I will bypass pasta and red sauce 99% of the time.
While we’re confessing here, I also hate most olives. Holy hell I hope my biological mother and her side of the family do not read this.
I have theory, because in addition to my Mediterranean heritage (which is where my temper and gigantic head of curly black hair came from), I’m also half Irish (also accountable for my temper and black hair …).
Before I continue with my theory, please note that I make Italian and Sicilian food ALL THE TIME. However, I never make Irish food. Like never, never, never. I never bake soda bread, never had shepherd’s pie, I don’t eat meat other than fish and shellfish, and I avoid potatoes except occasional circumstances. I only eat colcannon if someone else makes it for me and I can’t stand potato pancakes.
My Irish ancestors …?
They… are … pissed.
So I believe, somewhat irrationally, that this imbalance has exacted itself in the form of my hatred of olives and my total apathy toward tomato sauces. The screaming Irish blood in my veins makes me hate olives and care not for tomato sauce to get even with the screaming Mediterranean blood. It’s totally like a Lifetime movie in these blood vessels, y’all. At this point, I feel totally compelled to mention that I can drink whiskey like nobody’s business. It’s a blessing and a curse, people.
Whiskey, olives and blood cells aside, I really don’t care for tomato sauces. I think they’re boring. Even homemade, simmer for hours, 10-ingredient sauces are just … boring. Tomato tends to overpower every other delicious thing in the dish, so it’s pointless adding peas or spinach (in my irrational little brain, anyway). Anyone who’s seen me cook pasta knows that if peas and spinach are to be had, then they’re in, no questions asked.
I’ll stop rambling and attempt to be concise, because this has become the most ridiculous PseudoBlog entry I’ve ever written. It’s been a long week and my irrational, pea-loving, olive-hating brain is fried just like a cute little potato-pancake (…uggh!).
The other night, cooking for just myself, I came up with a delicious solution. I wanted something more than oil and herbs, but naturally I didn’t want to drench my poor fettuccine in “Ragu Chunky Mushroom.” I love mushrooms, but that name is repulsive. Also, since we’re moving in a few days, I have no “fresh food” in my house. Only pantry items.
So I started cooking … and praying my nightly kitchen prayer that goes a little something like this:
“Lord, oh lord, please let there be parmesan in the fridge!”
Sacrilege, I know.
Silky Smoky Tomato Herb Fettuccine
1/4 lb fettuccine
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 cloves garlic, chopped
Crushed red pepper flakes
Tarragon or thyme, dried and anything but whole
1/4 smoked sun dried tomatoes, chopped
Ground Black pepper
2-3 tablespoons red tomato sauce
Start the pasta cooking in some salted water. Cook until al dente and drain (of course). While this is happening, you’re going to put together your sauce.
Heat the olive oil over medium low eat and add garlic. Keep your heat low, you want the flavors of each ingredient to infuse the oil, but not brown or burn. When the garlic is fragrant, about 30 seconds later, add your sun dried tomatoes, crushed red pepper, tarragon or thyme, basil, smoked paprika and black pepper. Since you can’t really taste hot oil, try to gauge the amount by the fragrance coming from the pan. I know, super vague, I’m sorry.
If I had to estimate, I’d say a teaspoon of the herbs, and half a teaspoon of the red pepper flakes and a half teaspoon or less of the paprika. Black pepper is totally up to you.
Let this heat through and even simmer/sizzle for a bit, but keep an eye on it. The sun dried tomatoes will soften and absorb some of the delicious oil, but don’t let them brown. If your pasta is still cooking, feel free to turn the heat on the oil off. It will stay warm, and only takes about 30 seconds to reheat after you drain your pasta.
With that said … drain your pasta!
Toss with the oil mixture until coated and salt to taste. Toss with the tomato sauce, 1 tablespoon at a time. At first the sauce will look almost watery, and then after the second tablespoon of sauce, it will take on a silky red look without being drenched in jarred sauce. After that, add more only to your taste, but not too much or you’ll loose that great silky texture that the oil gives the pasta.
Now, my kitchen prayers were NOT answered, so this is vegan. But feel free to sprinkle some parmesan if you have it, or nutritional yeast if you’re one of my vegan friends =)
I love this pasta. It made me rediscover my appreciation for the great taste of tomato without ever addressing the idea of “chunky” or “ragu”. The herbs come through wonderfully. Oh! And if you take that first bite and think that you want MORE herby deliciousness … it is perfectly acceptable to add more even after the pasta, oil and tomato have been combined. I just like to make my oil as infused with flavor as possible. Oh and this would be great with zucchini or eggplant cooked with the oil. Eggplant especially because it melts right into the sauce. Toss in some chunky cubes of mozzarella and oh my heaven I am a happy lady.
This isn’t the most health conscious dish, but it is such a perfect small-portioned quick and easy dinner. I made it in less than 15 minutes, which was great after a run. Plus, unlike all those OTHER red sauces which shall not be named, I could totally have added peas or spinach and not been freaked out. When it comes to my food, I’m still that girl in the back of the class that chews on her chair. I’m weird, I know. My ancestors agree with you, don’t worry.