Saturday, September 21, 2013

Sun Dried Tomato Pesto Spaghetti ~ Glass Snaplock Storage

My cooking techniques and the fresh ingredients I use change with the seasons.  As we head into Autumn, a homemade pasta sauce of sun dried tomatoes, pine nuts and fresh oregano is a welcome change from all of the grilled foods I have been making.  This sauce was inspired by Lidia Bastianich of Lidia's Italy which I watch on PBS whenever I  can.  If you haven't ever see the shows you really should.  Many are part travelogue and part cooking show.

Inspired by Chef Lidia
I say this is 'inspired' by Lidia, as I watched her make something similar.  Several weeks later I attempted to replicate what I had seen without looking it up on her website.  On several of her programs she toasts some breadcrumbs in a skillet and tosses them onto the pasta after it's about ready to serve.  I was skeptical at first.  But just as she says, they add the perfect little crunch and now I frequently do this whenever I make pasta, particularly if it is one with a light sauce.  I use that on this sauce as well.  Give it a try.

This recipe is also perfect for vegetarians.  Simply use vegetable stock instead of chicken stock and serve with a garden salad.  I make it both with meatballs and as a Meatless Monday dish.  I prefer to use fresh oregano, but if your garden has a surplus of fresh basil you can substitute as noted.

This is a recipe that requires a food processor.  In most of my recipes I use the processor only as a convenience and give you the option of slicing and dicing by hand.  But for this one there really is no way around having a standard sized food processor.  If you don't it's best to select another recipe.

1 pound thick spaghetti
10 ounce jar of sun dried tomatoes in oil
2 tablespoons tomato paste
3/4 cup (3-4 ounces) pine nuts
2 large garlic cloves, peeled
1/2 cup fresh oregano (basil can be substituted)
1 cup fresh Parmesan cheese plus more for garnishing (grated)
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium onion, peeled and finely chopped
1 1/2 cups chicken or vegetable stock
salt and pepper, to taste
1/2 cup Panko-style bread crumbs, seasoned

Place the sun dried tomatoes with their oil in the bowl of a food processor fitting with the chopping blade.  Add the tomato paste, nuts, garlic, oregano and Parmesan cheese (reserving a bit of the cheese for garnish.)  Run the processor until a thick paste forms.

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.  While it heats, place the a large deep skillet over medium heat.  Add 1 tablespoon of olive oil and when warmed, add the chopped onion.  Saute for 3-5 minutes stirring regularly until the onions are soft and translucent.  Add the tomato pesto to the skillet and heat for another minute, stirring regularly  Add the stock and stir in.  Heat to simmering, reduce heat to low and cover, stirring occasionally.

Add one tablespoon of olive oil to a small saute pan set over moderate heat.  Toss in the bread crumbs and stir constantly until they are golden brown.  Add seasoning (salt, pepper, granulated garlic) if they were not pre-seasoned.

When the water is boiling, add the pasta and cook according to package directions until the spaghetti is just barely al dente.  You will continue to cook it in the sauce for another minute or two, so do not over cook it in the water.  Using tongs move the al dente pasta directly into the hot tomato pesto and turn to coat.  Add pasta water if needed to loosen the spaghetti and the correct consistency is reached.  Heat for a minute or two longer, and plate.  Sprinkle each serving with the toasted breadcrumbs and serve with the remaining grated Parmesan cheese.

Glassware Snaplock Storage Container
Now you may be wondering why I've shown the above photo, but if you haven't considered these storage containers you really should.  I'll never buy another type of storage container again.  I've had the above set for several years and they are still going strong.  No staining and they really do lock shut tight to keep food fresh.  You can get them many places and they are even available on Amazon.  I liked the 20 piece set so much I purchased another one for our home in St. Thomas.  I mention this here because I've had several comments from our guests asking where I got them.  Once you try them I think you'll love them too. Glass storage containers with tight fitting lids.  Perfection!

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