Friday, April 17, 2009

Silvia's pasta (Italian style)

I love learning about new foods from friends. And my friend Silvia (who I met when I was working as a tech at Northwestern) has introduced me to two amazing foods that I eat VERY regularly:

1. Parmesan cheese. I know this sounds weird, but before Silvia I never liked Parmesan. Probably b/c my only experience with it had been the powdered crap from a green can (the smell still makes my stomach turn...ugh). And then one day Silvia came back from a trip home to Italy with this GIANT block of ah-may-zing Parmesan cheese. The super aged, thick-rind kind. Wow! And over time I've come to love it more and more. Although I mainly use it on pasta (see below), my favorite way to eat it is the same way she introduced me to the cheese all those years ago: with pears. This is especially odd since I didn't even like pears! (Something about their texture turns me off.) But I love Asian pears (the only pear I like) with a chunk of aged Parmesan for the most amazing snack.

2. Italian-style pasta. OK, so you may think that pasta basically means Italian style. But I'm talking about AUTHENTIC pasta, at least authentic to Silvia :) And for that there's no pasta sauce, no slow-simmered tomatoes, no tomato paste. And with only a few ingredients and a handful of minutes you'll have the most delicious pasta dish. All you'll need is olive oil, fresh tomatoes, onions, garlic, pasta, herbs and salt & pepper.

I'm sure over the years I've totally bastardized Silvia's pasta, but its always delicious.

She had taught me to use regular tomatoes (like Roma) but all I had on hand were mini heirloom tomatoes. So I used those instead.

Sautee the tomatoes with thinly sliced onions in a liberal amount of olive oil

When soft, add chopped garlic

Cook until done. I threw in some spinach for some extra flavor and color.

Add salt, pepper and any herbs you may want. Throw over some pasta and you're done. I decided to top this batch with cheese. (I used some Parmesan for the kick and mozzarella for the melty)

As you can see, this is not a saucy in-your-face pasta. The flavors are clean, delicate and fresh. I can see why this would be a staple in anyones house: simple, flavorful, healthy and delicious.

Thank you Silvia for introducing me to such delicious food. I still can't quite make it as good as you do- but I try. And hopefully I've done it justice.



Jeanne said...

Yummy! I learned this no-sauce trick from Giada DeLaurentiis on Food Network. She also uses leftover pasta water to wilt spinach or melt cheese. Jackie...looks delicious. When are we going to cook together again? oxoxo

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