Darren has a subscription to Runner’s World magazine, and it often has really good and healthy recipes in it. This weekend he decided that he wanted to make us a pasta dish from the magazine. Darren isn’t the most savvy in the kitchen, most likely because I’m a “Kitchen Commando” (his words) and I don’t really let him do much cooking, but it turned out the recipe was for a pasta salad more than a pasta meal. I used to ingredients and the idea of the recipe and added a few more ingredients and turned it into a really amazing hot pasta dish.
Here is what I did:
I started by chopping about 100 grams of prosciutto into thin strips. (While I was prepping and cooking the “sauce” I had a large pot of water on the stove to boil, I cooked about 6 cups of penne pasta as I was preparing the rest).
I then sliced about 2 cups worth of fennel, really thin.
Next I minced 2 cloves of garlic very finely. We happened to get some fresh, organic garlic in our harvest box this week, and wow, what a difference in taste!
I put the prosciutto, the fennel, and the garlic into a frying pan that had been heating up with about a tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil. I sauteed this until the fennel started to soften up a bit.
Next I peeled and thinly sliced 2 pears and added the sliced pears into the frying pan, continuing to saute lightly over a medium heat.
Next, I added about a 1/2 cup of chopped walnuts into the frying pan and continued sauteing.
Next, I chopped up about 2 cups of fresh argula and tossed that into the frying pan, sauteing until the leaves were wilted.
(It’s starting to look like the toppings for a really delicious gourmet pizza! I may have to try that sometime!)
At this point, my penne was cooked to a nice al dente texture. You don’t want your noodles too soft or they get a bit starchy. I drained the pasta (rinsing it under cold water to halt the cooking process), returned it to the pot and turned the heat off under the frying pan.
Next, I added about 2 tablespoons of olive oil and 2 tablespoons of balsamic vinegar to the pasta and tossed it over a low heat. I then added in the contents of the frying pan, and continued to toss, adding in a good few cranks of freshly ground pepper.
I then added a liberal amount (maybe 1/3 of a cup, okay probably more, I love goat cheese) of crumbled goat cheese.
I continued to toss the pasta until the goat cheese started to melt into the pasta a little bit.
Then, I plated and served.
I’ll admit, as I was making this, I was a bit skeptical. It could have been so wrong, but I got lucky and it was SO right. The licorice flavour of the fennel was very mild and subtle, and the saltiness of of the prosciutto and the goat cheese totally balanced the slight sweetness of the pear. It was so good. A kitchen win. It was even good cold, and also as reheated leftovers (just tossed it in a frying pan with a bit of EVOO).
Try this. You’ll thank me.