Strong, burly pasta ~ Ham Pie Sandwiches

25 April 2007

Strong, burly pasta

This is a fine example of what to make for dinner when the one person in the house who vehemently hates mushrooms is stuck elsewhere until eleven at night. It is tasty; it is easy; it involves a lot of very strong, varied flavors and textures. I think it is the greatest. The end product feels robust with all the super-strong olive-eggplant-bell pepper flavors, and yet the procedure is standard: I do something of this type nearly every time I make pasta with tomatoes.

tomato puree
olive oil
black and/or green olives
red pepper
wine or dry vermouth
basil, oregano, cayenne
fresh parsley
grating cheese, if you feel like it

Start out by chopping several cloves of garlic into large chunks. I like garlic a lot, so I used maybe six or eight cloves just for me. Garrrrrlic. Heat some olive oil in your big pan; throw in the garlic to cook slowly. Add some spices here: dried basil and oregano, cayenne pepper. Stir and let cook while you chop all the other vegetables.

I made a bunch of quarter-moons of eggplant, big chunks of mushroom and red pepper, and rounds of olive. Olive types: you can use whatever type of olive you like best. I used a mix of kalamata and...uh, some small green ones. Their taste will be pretty dominant in the final dish, so you can use them sparingly: I think I used six or so olives for the whole thing. Proportions of all other vegetables are up to you. I used half a small eggplant, half a red pepper, and probably six or eight mushrooms. Mushrooms!

Add vegetables gradually, starting with eggplant, which takes the longest to cook. Once you have everything added in and softening well, throw in a glug of dry vermouth or whatever dry wine you may be drinking. Red wines are clearly excellent in this area, especially spicy reds like zinfandels. You need something dark and strong to stand up to the finished product. Let the alcohol cook off, then add your tomatoes and a little salt. Then let the whole shebang simmer together while you cook the pasta.

I like to use chunky pastas with holes for a chunky sauce like this: they catch lots of vegetable bits, so you get lots of different business in each bite. When said pasta is done, drain and toss it with the sauce. Then serve it, grate some cheese over if you want, and eat it.

Pasta is clearly not hard.