Friday, March 5, 2010

Whole wheat penne and greens in tomato sauce

I don't eat very much pasta, but I really like it. 

This was supposed to be amazing.  Savory Italian flavors, deliciously chewy pasta, fresh basil... what a great way to trick yourself into eating pounds of dark leafy greens!

I mean, I am not sorry that I just made a huge batch.  But it was a little unphenomenal.  I used too much liquid and too much oregano, so that you couldn't taste the basil (which was higher quality).  And, I got impatient and didn't cook the sauce as long as I needed to for the flavors to really come into their own.  So, do these things, and I bet this recipe will be even better.  Be sure to use high-quality canned tomatoes (like John Muir Glen) as they are really a star ingredient here.

Whole wheat penne and greens in tomato sauce

olive oil
1 onion, finely chopped
2-3 cloves garlic, minced
1 28-oz can crushed tomatoes
1 TB red pepper flakes (or less, to taste)
salt to taste
1 bay leaf
splash (or more) red wine (optional)
1 tsp sugar
1 tsp dried oregano (or 1 TB fresh)
chopped fresh basil
chopped chives or scallions
stock or water as necessary (I used a little miso broth)
2 c whole wheat penne or rotini pasta
1 lb greens (collard, mustard, etc.)

1. In a large cast iron skillet, heat olive oil.  Saute onion and garlic for several minutes.  Mix in tomatoes, pepper flakes, salt, bay leaf, red wine, sugar, and oregano.  Simmer for 40+ minutes, stirring occasionally.
2. In a pot or saucepan, prepare pasta according to instructions.  In a separate, large stockpot, cook greens in salted water until tender.  Drain pasta and greens and set aside.
3. Stir chopped basil and scallions/chives into the sauce and cook for about 10 more minutes.  Adjust salt and red pepper to taste (keep in mind you'll be diluting the sauce with the pasta and green).
4. Add pasta and greens to the skillet (if it looks like it won't fit, try the stockpot in which you cooked the greens).  Stir to mix thoroughly, and serve hot.  Serves about 5.


Hannah Miller said...

Mmm, whole wheat penne IS delicious. I like that I can get it in bulk.

myer nore said...

At any rate, this looks phenomenal. I totally agree about John Muir Glen - you know, Deborah Madison mentions that brand, as do Cooks Illustrated in their taste test of canned tomatoes.

I made a truly delicious version of something in the same vein of this last night. I used soaked a bunch of dried mushrooms over heat until the water was boiling and then added TJ's organic whole wheat rotelle. In another pan I fried "too much" (just right by my taste) minced garlic in olive oil with cumin, salt, pepper, thyme, oregano, and one bay leaf. I poured most of the fried garlic over a small pan of TJ's (or should I say TG's) tomato basil marinara, and then sauteed a minced quarter onion along with some tofu logs in the remaining oil. I let the oil rise to the top of the TG's marinara, where it boiled the moisture out of the sauce with tiny bubbles - this is crucial; if you don't add the oil it will use large, splashy bubbles that will stain your kitchen wall. The remaining texture is more runny and gloopy than tomato paste, but thicker than tomato sauce - pretty similar to your picture - and perfect for the cracks in rotelle. I poured drained the rotelle and mushrooms from the pan with a chopstick, tossed them in a bowl with the sauce, then added the tofu logs and onion. Finally, I garnished with a few reams of boiled (and therefore de-salinated) seaweed strips, sriracha hot sauce, and sesame seeds. You know, it sounds funny, but I think that seaweed strips is the secret ingredient in a balanced tomato sauce flavor. Its cool, earthy touch teeter-totters with the sharp, sunny acid of the tomatoes. Then the juicy boiled mushrooms excrete their secret accompaniment. It was fab!

PS, I just love the instructions on Asian foods. These dried mushrooms, "AA" brand by Chengdu YiDaYuan Trading Co, had this rather Joycean thing to say about the use of dried mushrooms (all punctuation in original):

"Edible method:After use the lukewarm water soaks and directly to cook,fries,fever,for example:Clear cooks the mushroom,burns the mushroom with the bean curd,fries the mushroom with meat and so on. Storing method:coolly ventilate dryly place,moisture-proof,morm-preventing. Production date:See the seal. Gaurantees the nature time:12months. NO PRESERVATIVES ADDED NO MSG ADDED. E-mail: ydy-sale @"

myer nore said...

Ok, I just now realized that my comment is about as proofread as the computer-generated translation on the mushrooms. Whoops! Oh well.

Julia said...

That sounds amazing. I certainly have run up against "large, splashy bubbles"; I am glad to learn about the role of oil in obviating these bubbles. ;)

Thanks also for the food storage tips: "coolly ventilate dryly place,moisture-proof,morm-preventing" sounds like a good rule of thumb.