This vegetarian pasta is so good, I've made it three times in the past month. The red pepper flakes add bite; you can use less if you aren't into anything really spicy.
PASTA WITH MUSHROOMS, TOMATOES AND TOASTED FENNEL
This recipe serves two.
3/4 tsp fennel seeds
3/4 tsp whole black peppercorns
3 TB olive oil
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 small red onion, finely diced
1 - 8 oz pkg white button mushrooms, cleaned and sliced
3 TB water
2 TB butter
20 grape tomatoes, halved (more if you like)
1 TB balsamic vinegar (add a bit more according to taste)
1/2 tsp dried basil
1/2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes (or less to taste)
2 servings of rotini pasta, cooked
In a large skillet, toast fennel seeds and black peppercorns over medium heat until fragrant, being careful not to burn.
Transfer the fennel and pepper to a mortar and crush with a pestle. If you don't have a mortar and pestle, improvise with a plastic bag and hammer. Works just as well! Be sure to let the spices cool a bit before placing inside the bag.
In the same skillet, heat olive oil over medium heat, and add garlic and onion. Saute until tender, being careful not to burn garlic.
Throw on the mushrooms, water and butter. Cook for about 4 minutes.
Add tomatoes, and cook another couple of minutes.
While tomatoes are cooking, toss hot pasta with balsamic vinegar, fennel seeds, peppercorns, basil and red pepper flakes. Add mushroom/tomato mixture, and toss thoroughly to coat. Serve hot.
This is a very easy dish to make. The only catch is that it is time consuming; there's a lot of prep work before you can actually begin cooking.
If you have never used fish sauce before, beware! It is very potent and smells like your dog's vitamins gone over. NOT pleasant by itself, but in this dish the taste is subtle.
Feel free to experiment with the amounts, or add different things. I like recipes that I can customize to suit my particular tastes.
SHRIMP PAD THAI
Have everything prepared before you begin cooking. This recipe serves four.
1/4 C peanut oil
1 TB minced garlic
Handful of carrots, julienned (or purchase a package of julienned carrots and save yourself the trouble)
2 bunches green onions, white parts sliced lengthwise
Peeled and deveined medium shrimp (uncooked), at least 8 of the little suckers per person
12 TB fresh squeezed lemon juice, about 2 1/2 large lemons
4 TB fish sauce
8 oz. angel hair pasta, cooked
Handful of finely shredded cabbage
Handful of mung bean sprouts
2 hard cooked eggs, chopped
1/3 C coarsely chopped cilantro
1/3 C salted peanuts, coarsely crushed
In a large skillet (I use an electric skillet), heat garlic, carrots and onions in peanut oil over medium heat, about two minutes, taking care not to burn the garlic. Throw on the shrimp, lemon juice and fish sauce. Give it a brief stir, and then add cooked pasta. Toss. When shrimp are just about done, add the cabbage and bean sprouts, and toss some more. (If you like your cabbage and sprouts softer, add them when you add the pasta).
Transfer mixture to a warm serving platter. Garnish with the eggs, cilantro and peanuts. Serve immediately.
"I am not
a glutton; I am an explorer of food." How I miss Erma Bombeck!