April 10, 2013

The Maine Ingredient: A pair of versatile pasta dishes that are good for any occasion

Pasta can be paired and sauced with an almost infinite variety of ingredients. Here are two dishes -- one humble, one quite elegant and refined (and both delicious) -- to fit in with whatever occasion you might have planned.

PENNE WITH BROCCOLI AND WHITE BEANS

The sharp flavors of wine, broccoli, and salty cheese brighten up this sturdy pasta dish. Add some store-bought accompaniments such as caponata (eggplant relish), olives, roasted peppers and seeded breadsticks to complete the meal.

Servings: Four

4 tablespoons olive oil

2 large garlic cloves, finely chopped

11/3 cup dry white wine

1 (15-ounce) can large white beans (cannellini), drained

1/4 teaspoon dried red pepper flakes, or to taste

12 ounces penne or other similar-shaped pasta

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

6 cups broccoli florets (from about 1 pound broccoli)

2/3 cup shredded Parmesan cheese

Heat the oil in a large heavy skillet over medium heat. Add garlic and saut?or 1 minute. Add wine, beans and red pepper flakes, bring to a boil, reduce heat to medium-low and simmer until sauce reduces and thickens lightly.

Cook pasta in a large pot of boiling salted water until almost tender, about 8 minutes. Add broccoli and cook until pasta is al dente, about 3 more minutes. Remove and reserve about 11/2 cups of the pasta water and then drain pasta into a colander. Toss bean mixture with pasta mixture and cheese, adding pasta water if it seems dry. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

SMOKED SALMON LINGUINE

Serve this pasta with a salad of dark leafy greens tossed with balsamic vinaigrette and French dinner rolls with butter. A seasonal tart -- homemade or bought from a good bakery -- would complete this elegant little dinner nicely.

Servings: Four

4 tablespoons olive oil

2 garlic cloves, finely chopped

1 cup heavy or whipping cream

1 zucchini (about 8 ounces), halved, seeds scooped out and thinly sliced

1 teaspoon grated lemon zest

2 tablespoons lemon juice

1 tablespoon minced fresh tarragon

12 ounces linguine or other strand pasta

6 ounces thinly sliced smoked salmon, cut into strips

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

2 tablespoons drained capers

In a large skillet or saucepan, heat the oil. Add garlic and cook over medium heat for 1 minute. Add cream and zucchini and simmer uncovered for 3 minutes. Stir in lemon zest, juice, tarragon and 1/2 teaspoon salt.

Cook pasta in a large pot of boiling salted water until al dente, about 9 minutes. Remove about 1 cup of cooking water and then drain the pasta.

Toss sauce and pasta until well combined and season with salt and pepper to taste, adding a bit of cooking water if it seems dry. Transfer to a warm platter, drape salmon over the top and sprinkle with capers. Toss at the table.

 

Brooke Dojny is author or co-author of more than a dozen cookbooks, most recently "Lobster!" (Storey, 2012). She lives on the Blue Hill peninsula, and can be contacted via Facebook at facebook.com/brookedojny

 

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