Tuesday, May 31, 2011
PASTA WITH OLIVES, SALAMI, ARTICHOKES, AND MOZZARELLA
I can't help buying the America's Test Kitchen publications. They're sturdier than a magazine and well worth the price ($8 US, $9 Canadian). The summer issue of 30-Minute Suppers contained several pasta dishes, but this one caught my eye because right there in the name of the dish are foods that I love. I decided to use the recommended pasta, gemelli, because I love the twisted spiral shape. I couldn't find frozen artichoke hearts, but I always used the canned ones anyway. Instead of the 1/2 cup of mixed brine-cured olives that were suggested, I went with Kalamatas.
2 tbs olive oil
3 oz Genoa salami, cut into 1/2 inch strips
1 can artichoke hearts, drained and sliced thinly
1/2 cup pitted and halved Kalamata olives
1 garlic clove, minced
1/8 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
1 lb gemelli pasta
salt and pepper
4 oz smoked mozzarella, cut into 1/2 inch pieces (be sure to read Taste Notes)
1/4 cup chopped, fresh parsley
Bring 4 quarts water to boil in a large pot. Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat until just smoking. Add salami and cook, stirring constantly, until salami is browned and crisp, about 3 minutes. Using slotted spoon, transfer salami to paper towel-lined plate and set aside.
Add artichokes to fat in pan and cook until browned, about 3 minutes. Stir in olives, garlic, and pepper flakes and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Remove pan from heat, cover, and keep warm.
Meanwhile, add gemelli and 1 tbs salt to boiling water and cook until al dente. Reserve 1 cup (they suggested 1/2, but you'll need more) of the cooking water, then drain gemelli and return to the pot. Stir in the artichoke mixture, mozzarella, and parsley, adding reserved cooking water until the consistency seems right. I used the full cup. To serve, sprinkle crisp salami over the top.
I've eaten smoked mozzarella before, so I went with this suggestion. NEVER AGAIN!!! Not only did it add more saltiness where none was needed (the salami and the olives added plenty), but I just didn't care for the taste or texture. That said, we enjoyed the pasta but liked it even more the next day as a room temperature pasta salad. If you are watching your sodium intake, this must be a rare treat. Even the artichokes add saltiness to the dish. I will definitely make this again, but I will use fresh mozzarella and may even use regular black olives. While I love brine-cured olives, they are almost too "in your face" in this dish.