Thursday, November 11, 2010

gotta love when losing a bet means you're elbow deep in tomatoes

Well, like the title said, I lost a bet.  And because of said bet, I've had to spend all afternoon cooking (good thing it's something I love to do so it's not the total end of the world) and I don't get to sit around and watch my dad make me a ginormous batch of his awesome spaghetti sauce for me to take back to DC and freeze.

While I'm sitting here listening to the You've Got Mail soundtrack and Michael Bublé, and waiting for things to cook in the oven, I thought I would share with you what I'm currently cooking for dinner (which just happens to be one of my favorite recipes-see, I made a lose a win!)

The recipe below is courtesy Michael Chiarello and the Food Network (with my own few edits, I hope you don't mind)

Pastina Risotto with Roasted Tomato and Pepper Sauce

Rosted Tomato and Pepper Sauce:
  • 1 (28-ounce) can whole peeled tomatoes
  • 3 red peppers, cored and cut into large pieces (depending on size, I usually use 4)
  • 10 garlic cloves, smashed
  • 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon fresh rosemary roughly chopped (I love rosemary so I use about 1 1/2 tablespoons)
  • Kosher salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
Put the rack in the center of the oven and preheat the broiler to high.

Smash the tomatoes with your hands and put them and their juice into a large bowl.  Add the peppers, garlic, oil, vinegar and rosemary.  Season with salt and pepper and mix the ingredients well.  Pour out onto a shallow baking pan and place the pan on the middle rack of the oven under the broiler for 15 minutes.  Give the mixture a good stir and cook for another 15 minutes, or until the peppers are tender (I recommend stirring every 5 minutes so it cooks more evenly)

Puree the mixture in batches in a blender.  (Do not fill the blender more than half full and hold a kitchen towel firmly over the blender lid while pureeing.  Hot liquids can expand causing the lid to pop off and the hot liquid to splatter) If not using right away, allow to cool to room temperature before refrigerating.

The Pasta:
  • Kosher salt
  • 1 pound pastina (I love the pastina, but I usually use orzo, it's a little bit easier to eat)
  • 4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 cloves minced garlic
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh oregano leaves
  • 1 1/2 cups water
  • 1 cup chicken stock, canned low-sodium chicken broth, or water
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 1/2 cups Roasted Tomato and Pepper Sauce (I just put in the entire batch of sauce) 
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan (plus more for garnish)
  • 6 cups firmly packed spinach leaves, large stems removed, torn (I don't always use 6 cups, I just use all of a store bought container, it wilts down a lot more than you think it will)

Bring a large pot of salted water to boil over high heat.  Add the pastina and cook for half the time recommended on the package.  The pasta should still be very firm in the center as it will be cooked more.

Reserve 1 cup of the pasta water, then drain the pasta, rinse with cold water, and drain again.  Drizzle with 2 tablespoons olive oil to keep the pasta from sticking together.  You can prepare the pasta to this point up to 8 hours ahead; refrigerate until you are ready to finish the dish)

Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a large pot over high heat.  Add the garlic and saute until browned.  Add the oregano and cook briefly to release its fragrance, then add 1 1/2 cups water.  Bring the liquid to a boil, add the partially cooked pasta and stir to coat.  Add 1 cup stock or broth, season with salt and pepper, and simmer until all the liquid has been absorbed, 3 to 4 minutes.

Add the Roasted Tomato and Pepper Sauce and 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese. then stir in the spinach to wilt.  Thin if desired with some of the reserved pasta water.  Remove from the heat, place in serving spoons and sprinkle with Parmesan.  Serve warm.

Now if you want to be really decadent, I cook short ribs to put on top of the pasta. This is my recipe:

Short Ribs 

Preheat the oven to 425

Stand up the short ribs in a dutch oven and add half chicken broth, half water until the short ribs are 3/4 covered.  I usually add everything but the kitchen sink-honestly just throw in whatever sounds good that you have lying around.  Today I put in herbs de provence, garlic, rosemary, oregano, bay leaves, salt and pepper.  Roughly chop the garlic and rosemary to release the flavor.

Put the lid on and cook.  When the short ribs look like they have been cooked on the outside, the broth is bubbling, you can smell it etc. (45 minutes to an hour) turn the oven down to 325 and cook until the meat is thoroughly cooked and falling off the bone (about 2 more hours)

Plate the dish by putting the pasta in a bowl and adding the short ribs on top.  Finish with a dollop of goat cheese.

Hope you enjoy it, believe me it's delicious, my mouth is watering just sitting here.  Now I'm off to finish cooking before heading off to spinning so I can burn a few calories before this dinner!
Happy eating-and in my house, it's also happy TV Thursday. 

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