Thursday, July 11, 2013

Pasta with Onion, Green Garlic, Sundried Tomato, and Basil

Plate of Pasta with Onion, Green Garlic, dried tomato, and basil
Top with Parmesan Cheese, or Not

Recipe by Robin

Most great cooks love improvising from written recipes with inspired and/or wacky ideas. Not only does improvising tickle the cook’s creative bones, it’s also a practical way to deal with an overly enthusiastic garden and odd bits of leftovers in the kitchen. As case in point, I’ve just reinvented my classic “cheap fare” recipe, Pasta a l’Olio.  I incorporated a backlog of onions and green garlic from our CSA, a bounty of CSA basil from this week, and dried tomatoes from our last year’s garden harvest. Soon this year’s tomatoes will be ripe for drying, so I used a rather large amount from last year along with some tomato paste. You could reduce the quantity of dried tomatoes, and/or add some fresh tomatoes or tomato sauce. We’re improvising here, eh?

Basket of Assorted Onions and Green Garlic
It's All About Onions and Garlic
Feel free to cut this recipe in half if you don’t have as many onions. The balance between green and yellow or white onions is important to balance bitterness with sweetness in this dish, so keep the proportions more or less the same. Or you could substitute green bell pepper for all or part of the green onion. Garlic amount can be varied, and regular dry garlic can be employed instead of green garlic (use about 8 cloves, or to taste). The rough equivalents of veggies used are:

2 - 3 bunches spring onions
1 - 2 bunches green garlic
1 large bunch basil

For best tomato taste, use a mixed variety of dried tomatoes from the garden. Lacking that, for more variety you could add 1cup or so of pitted black olives along with the tomatoes. Vary the amount of tomato paste to your liking, and REMEMBER to save the water after soaking the dried tomatoes. You’ll need some of that to make the sauce thinner and richer. And according to American legend, nothing can be too thin or too rich.

Plate of Pasta with Onion, Garlic, Dried Tomato, and Basil with basil garnish
Garnish with Basil Leaves
Pasta with Onion, Garlic, Sundried Tomato, and Basil
serves about 12

3 tbsp. olive oil
2 cups chopped green onions
2 cups sliced spring onion tops, or bell pepper
5 cups spring or dry onions, sliced in half moons
2½ cups sliced and chopped green garlic
1½ cups packed mixed dried tomatoes
¼ - 1/3 cup tomato paste
1½ cups packed chopped basil
a few basil leaves for garnish
¼ tsp. salt
a few grinds of pepper
Miracle Noodles or other pasta, for serving
salt, pepper, and Parmesan cheese for serving

Slice up the onions as directed above, discarding wilted or yellowed parts: green onions and spring onion tops about 3/8 inch thick slices, and bulb parts of onions cut in half and made into ~3/8 inch half moons. Chop up the green garlic as desired.

Boil water and cook pasta per directions. If using Miracle Noodles, rinse them now per directions, but wait to cook them till onions and garlic are almost done. It’s recommended that they only cook one minute, but I cook them for 2 – 3.

Preheat electric frying pan to 350 degrees. Add olive oil and coat bottom of pan. Add half-moon onion slices and sauté stirring constantly for 2 minutes, until slightly wilted. Stir in sliced green onions and spring onion tops. Sauté for another 2 minutes, stirring frequently. Add garlic and continue to sauté and stir for about 6 minutes, stirring frequently, until onions are somewhat limp and shiny, and smell like cooked onions rather than “green-scented” raw onions.

While onions and garlic are cooking, cover dried tomatoes with boiling water and let sit 5 – 10 minutes, until partially reconstituted. Drain liquid and RESERVE it for sauce.

Combine tomato paste with ½ cup of reserved liquid to make sauce (don’t discard extra liquid yet!). Add sauce to pan when onions are cooked. Stir in chopped basil. Stir to mix. Add more tomato-soaking liquid if needed, a tablespoon or two at a time, till sauce is to your liking. Heat to a simmer, then reduce heat and keep warm.

Drain the pasta and serve with a big scoop of sauce. Invite diners to sprinkle their servings with salt, pepper, and Parmesan cheese to taste.

Red Tomatoes with Green and Yellow onions
Mixing In the Dried Tomato

Closeup of Pasta dish
Makes Tasty Leftovers

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