Sunday, August 23, 2009

Friday Night Dinner: Lighter Pasta with Vegetable Sauce

Dinner this past Friday was eventful.

After going to Melt, FD and I weren't all
that hungry until around 8 p.m. when I started making this seemingly easy and light dish from America's Test Kitchen Cooking for 2 2009 issue.

Yes, it was light and tasted fine enough, but I'd make many revisions to it. First, I was use a zucchini, not a patty pan squash. While the patty pans are absolutely pretty and spaced-out with their UFO shapes, they didn't add a lot of flavor to this dish. In fact, we couldn't barely taste them at all. Because I didn't have a red pepper, I used a green one, which after cooking tasted a bit bitter. And I used Malabar Spinach instead of baby arugula because, again, it's what I had on hand, and the Malabar Spinach made the dish a little bitter too. I did sub the carrots with green beans and that worked really well. I really liked this dish, but I would stick to the ingredients a bit more if I make it again.

The one thing I learned from this dish, though, that I will never forget is how to clean a knife cut better. Because I'm a novice cook, my knife skills aren't all that great. Meaning, I cut myself a lot. And when I cut myself I wash out the wound with warm water and soap, pour some rubbing alcohol or peroxide on it, slap a Hello Kitty Band-aid on it, and call it a day. While halving the cherry tomatoes, of course, I cut the tip of my middle finger on my left hand. I did my usual routine, made sure all the food was uncontaminated and the washed the knife and cutting board and got back to work. No big deal. The next morning I took off my Band-Aid to find my finger was red, swollen, tingly, and oozing clear liquid. After a trip to the ER the doc confirmed I had a fingertip infection. The nurse wrapped up my wound to make it look way more serious than it really is. I'm not exactly sure how my finger got infected. I'm thinking it's because I didn't change my bandage after washing dishes...

The perk to all this finger-infection-drama is I like the extra attention, especially from FD who has become the official dishwasher.

Lighter Pasta with Garden Vegetable Sauce

1/2 zucchini, halved lengthwise and sliced 1/4 in thick
1/2 cup cherry tomaotes, halved
1 carrot, peeled and grated on the large holes of a grater
1 small onion, sliced thin
1/2 medium red pepper, cut into 1/4 in pieces
Table salt
1 1/2 T tomato paste
2 garlic cloves, minced
Pinch of red pepper flakes
3/4 c chicken broth (or veggie broth)
1/4 lb rotini pasta
1 1/2 c baby arugula
2 T chopped fresh basil

Heat 1 t of oil in 10-in non-stick skillet over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add the zucchini and cook, about 3 min. Add the cherry tomatoes, toss to combine, and cook until slightly wilted, about 1 min. Transfer to large bowl.

Add 1 t more of oil to skillet. Over med. heat wait for oil to shimmer before adding carrot, onion, bell pepper, and 1/8 t salt, cover and cook until veggies soften, about 5-7 minutes. Stir in tomato paste and continue to cook until fragrant, about 30 sec. Stir in the broth, scraping up any browned bits. Bring to a simmer and cook until slightly thickened, about 1 min.; cover and set aside.

Meanwhile, boil pasta according to box directions. Reserve 1/2 c of cooking water, then drain pasta and return it to the pot.

Add the zucchini/broth mixture, arugula, basil, and 1 t oil to the cooked pasta and gently toss. Cover and let sit 1 min. Season with salt & pepper to taste. And adjust the consistency of the sauce with the reserved cooking water as desired. Serve, passing the Parm cheese separately.

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