I wiped away the weeds & foam. / I fetched my sea-born treasures home... Ralph Waldo Emerson

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Pasta Puttanesca: Using Up Your Pantry Supplies

Hi! Some mornings we wake up and see THIS:
Especially this record breaking snowy-coldy-long grey winter of 2014. Another ''polar vortex'' is up on us, and some days I just don't want to go out to the store. This is when  my emergency pantry stock comes in handy. Every summer I get a flyer reminding me to stock up on hurricane supplies. And every winter I get another flyer, for blizzard preparedness and ''stuck in your car'' crises.
Fine. But I've lived here a long time and I for one do not someday want to have to eat 15 year old Spam. This means the pantry has to get rotated, and used and restocked every few months.
Those of you who knew me well know I am not one for prepared or canned foods. I don't get all crazy and buy 100 cans of chicken noodle soup when they're on sale 10 for a dollar. If we want soup here, I make homemade. Yeesh. But there are some veggie items---tomato paste? consomme? that I use a lot of and don't make from scratch. This is a favorite easy pasta sauce for those Use Up the Pantry days.
Pasta Puttanesca.

The story goes that that the prostitutes of Sicily would throw this sauce together, in a rush, when they'd see the  fishing fleet return with the day's catch. I suppose only mythical Italian 'ho's feel compelled to feed their clients,lol. History, here.
Get out your best heavy le Creuset pot , or something similar.
In olive oil saute a minced Vidalia/ sweet white onion, 6 -8 finely minced cloves of garlic.
 (I had an eggplant in the bin, so I diced it and sauteed it too. Adds yumminess but not crucial.)
Now get out those cans and your [Not-Electric] can opener!
Open all, drain well:

-1can of plain artichoke hearts.
-1 small can of black ''pearl'' olives
-1 can of diced tomatoes or whole tomatoes chopped up. Whatever. I had this jar of marinara sauce, horrors! Used it up instead of using tomatoes.
-1 jar of capers.
-1 can of mushrooms.
Other than the mushrooms, you can see these are not ''from the farmers market'' kinds of veggies. But they hopefully have lots of wintery vitamins. And we love veggies here. (What is a caper, anyway? My mom always said they are nasturtium seeds! )
Cut the artichoke hearts in half.
Add everything to the le Creuset pot.
even the eggplant.

stir until everything gets nice and hot. 2, 3 minutes.
Add whatever wine you have in your fridge, red or white. Or---beer? About a Cup. Stir. Add some water if you like, but only a little.
Seasonings: salt, pepper, 2T of sugar or Splenda. [this is important, adds depth and caramelizes the sauce. ]
Basil, oregano, lemon pepper, a few fennel seeds? Lots of parsley.
Stir well, cover partially, simmer for about an hour. Less time is fine if you're hungry.
If someone doesn't want a quasi-vegetarian meal, you can add diced cooked bacon or pancetta near the end. 

I like this on hearty whole wheat spaghetti or linguine. Al dente. Please. It is also good as a sauce on pan-grilled rib eye steaks. Lots of freshly grated Parmesan on top.

By the way, if it is very cold outside, and maybe inside too---it is worth the effort to heat your plates or pasta bowls. Just run hot water over them then dry well, or turn the sauce pot lid upside down, so it is flat, and set the plates on top while the sauce simmers.This dish is best served steaming hot and fragrant.
I often freeze half of the sauce. It can also be eaten cold, like a ratatouille, in the event of a power failure. No Spam for us! Though I will admit a secret love for canned corned beef hash.
Tonight I am using the second half from this weekend's batch to make baked ''ziti'', using up all my leftover bits of pasta.  With ricotta and provolone. The baking casserole smells so delicious! Using the oven makes my cottage so cozy and warm. Perfect for  Polar Vortex Three.
***Don't forget to restock your supplies next trip to the store.
gone to the beach