Sunday, March 11, 2012

And Life is Colour and Warmth and Light

One thing that truly brings me joy is cooking.  I love everything about it: the tempting smells, the way flavors meld together, but I especially love making food look like you want to eat it.  I love beautiful things, and for some strange reason I feel like if I am eating beautiful food it must make me more beautiful...right?

I have caught myself getting excited over this changing in the weather, not just because it means we made it through another grueling Mississippi winter :) but it means that fresh homegrown tomatoes are on their way!  I couldn't quite wait for the tomatoes to get here, so I made a recipe to celebrate the changing of the seasons.  It is called Pasta Ponza, and I found it in my Giada at Home cookbook.  If you don't have a Giada De Laurentiis cookbook, I highly recommend picking one up or even finding some of her recipes online.  They are so easy and truly beautiful food your body wants you to eat.

First, you wash your two kinds of cherry tomatoes.  Look at how vibrant these colors are! Eek!  

Cut the tomatoes in half and place in a buttered 8x8 baking dish

Add the rinsed and drained capers, olive oil, salt, and pepper

It will look a little something like this

Next top it with 1/2 cup of Italian bread crumbs and drizzle with olive oil to get that delicious, crispy crust.  Place the baking dish in a 375 degree oven for 35 minutes.

While the tomatoes are baking away, we can start on our pasta.  Put it in boiling water for about 9 minutes.

 Once the pasta is done, reserve 1 cup of the pasta water to incorporate the tomatoes into the pasta.

Strain the pasta and transfer it to a mixing bowl

Now it is time to retrieve your light, summery goodness from the oven

Pour your tomato mixture over the pasta, along with 1 cup of Pecorino Romano cheese and mix well

If your cheese has not melted in very well, here is where you add some of your reserved cooking liquid to meld the two together.  I transferred the pasta to another dish so it would look a little nicer for my sweet in laws that were coming for dinner.

Chop 1/4 cup of fresh flat leaf parsley... I know, it is a little more than 1/4 a cup, but I am thinking of making a parsley pesto later with some walnuts and Parmesan.  One thing I have learned from being recently married is the cooking never stops, so if you can get a head start on another dish you are a lucky lady.

Garnish your dish with some more Pecorino Romano cheese and voila!

Ta Da!  The finished product

But wait!

 If your significant other is anything like mine, a meal is just not a meal without meat.  As Wendy would say, "Where's the beef?"  

 So I sauteed up some of his deer sausage that we recently got back from his latest kill this winter.  I just put this as a side, but you better believe me, he mixed this right on in with his pasta.

And I paired it with some crusty, rosemary lemon bread that I had made earlier this week.  It was one beautiful and delicious meal I just had to share.

Pasta Ponza
2 cups of red cherry tomatoes, halved
2 cups of yellow cherry tomatoes, halved
1/4 cup of capers, rinsed and drained
1 tbsp olive oil plus more for drizzling
1/2 tsp of salt
1/4 tsp of pepper
1/2 cup Italian style bread crumbs
1 lb of ziti
1 1/4 cups of grated Pecorino Romano cheese
1/4 cup of chopped flat-leaf parsley

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.  Butter an 8 x 8 inch glass baking dish and set it aside.

Combine the tomatoes, capers, olive oil, salt, and pepper in the baking dish.  Sprinkle the top with the breadcrumbs and drizzle olive oil over the top.  Bake for 30-35 minutes until the top is golden.  Let cool for 5 minutes.

Bring a large pot of water to boil and put your ziti in.  Let it cook for 9 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Drain the pasta, reserving 1 cup of pasta water.  Put the pasta in a large mixing bowl, spoon the tomato mixture over the top.  Add 1 cup of cheese and toss well.  Thin out the sauce with some of the reserved water if needed.  Season the dish with salt and pepper and garnish with the rest of the cheese and parsley.  Serve immediately.

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