Awhile back, I rounded up all the empty plastic pots leftover from springtime plant purchases and took them to the plastic pot recycling event at the botanical gardens, and while we were there, of course we couldn't pass up the opportunity to stroll through the gardens. I kept meaning to use the photos in a post but never got around to it till I saw the Week of Paths posted at the glass doorknob.
It was such a beautiful, wet, and chilly fall day, and I fell in love with the lovely little wattle-lined path in the photo above. There's instructions on how to make your own at the garden's website!
I'm used to tromping through the woods with spiderwebs smacking me in the face, so the path above was oh-so-fancy.
There were lots of city slickers strolling there too (if there is such a thing as a city slicker in Alaska) -- the types of people you'd never see up in the mountains, you know, because there's bears there. But the gardens are right next to a bear-magnet salmon stream and so I was thinking the atmosphere seemed rather bear-ish and sure enough, the next day's newspaper announced that the gardens were closed indefinitely because a grizzly was there guarding his moose kill.
Which brings me around to this: let me tell you about the supper I'd guard with my life.
It's a pasta timbale, the Italian ... or Spanish? ...or French? (I googled it but am even more confused now) word for drum, and so, no matter it's etymological origins, it's a big drum-shaped dome of pasta. I stumbled across the recipe and had to make it.
Hm. According to this source, the word 'timbale' is also "a Spanish euphemishm for the vulgar term cojones, since they come in pairs, are rather large, and make alot of noise..." Okay.
This recipe reminded me of two things.
First: My mom used to make these huge pots of spaghetti sauce -- are you with me when I say that pasta sauce tastes best when 'tested' using a wooden spoon, straight from the pot while simmering on the stove, still a few hours away from showtime, otherwise known as suppertime? Sure the stuff on your plate is good and all, and it's the same as the stuff bubbling in the pot, but no, the wooden spoon sauce is the best. What's even better is when you have a little bit of bread to dip into the pot.
After dinner, she'd stir all the leftover spaghetti noodles into the leftover sauce and put it in the fridge, then the next day she'd put it in a pan and bake it in the oven. So good! Baked leftover spaghetti -- the sauce has thoroughly soaked into the pasta, the flavors are concentrated. Oh! So good.
It's even better the next morning -- we're on day three here, if I'm not mistaken -- talk about budget dining! I'd eat it cold for breakfast. I was such a sucker for cold pasta leftovers for breakfast when I was a kid.
Lasagna! Cold! For! Breakfast! You can keep your pancakes.
Second thing: if you've ever seen the movie Big Night, you know what I'm talking about with the drum-shaped pasta. Ah, Big Night. I think I watched you a thousand times and never got tired of you. Such a beautiful food movie. If you haven't seen it yet, you owe it to yourself to seek out a copy. Although I think their drum-shaped pasta was named a timpano.
You say timbale. I say timpano. They say cojone. Either way, it's a big drum-shaped and delicious stack of pasta.
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
6 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
1 pound spicy Italian sausage links, boiled for 6 minutes and cut into bite-size pieces
2 teaspoons minced garlic
1 cup fresh bread crumbs
Freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup coarsely chopped fresh Italian parsley leaves
1 cup freshly grated Parmesan
1 pound pastina
Pastina Timbale Sauce, recipe follows
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Brush 8 (12-ounce) ramekins or 1 large oven-safe bowl with butter and set aside.
Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a saucepan and saute sausage until browned.
Meanwhile, combine 2 tablespoons of the oil and the minced garlic in a medium skillet over medium heat. Cook until the garlic is light brown, about 2 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Add the bread crumbs to the skillet and stir them every minute for 3 to 5 minutes until the crumbs are lightly toasted. Season with salt and pepper. Add 1/4 cup of the parsley and 1/4 cup of the Parmesan. Cook for 30 seconds.
Pour the bread crumb mixture into the prepared ramekins or bowl and press around the sides to line with the bread crumb mixture, using your fingers to evenly distribute it along the bottom and up the sides.
While the Pastina Timbale Sauce is simmering, cook the pastina in the boiling salted water until just shy of al dente, about 9 minutes. Drain the pastina in a colander.
Reheat the sauce, if needed, and add the drained pastina and then the browned sausage. Add the remaining 1/4 cup of parsley, and remaining 3/4 cup Parmesan. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. Stir to combine. Transfer the pastina mixture to the lined ramekins (1 1/4 cups per ramekin) or large bowl. Allow to cool for 10 minutes.
Invert the molded pastina timbale onto warmed individual serving plates, and serve.
3 pounds canned diced tomatoes, drained
2 jalapeno chiles
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
Salt and freshly ground pepper
1 cup minced onion
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh oregano leaves
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
2 tablespoons Gorgonzola
1 small jar roasted peppers, julienned (about 1 cup)
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
In a bowl, toss tomatoes and whole jalapeno chiles with 1 tablespoon of the olive oil; season with salt and pepper, to taste. Place tomato mixture on a cookie sheet and roast in oven for 15 or 20 minutes or until slightly browned. Remove from heat and finely chop the tomatoes. Transfer tomato pulp and any juices from the cutting board to a bowl. Chop the chiles and taste to determine their heat.
Heat the remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil in a large saute pan over medium heat until hot. Add the onion, season with salt, and saute until softened, about 2 minutes. Add the garlic and oregano and stir. Add the chiles and simmer for another minute, only adding as much jalapeno as you want for spice. Add the tomatoes and their juice and bring to a boil over high heat. Lower the heat to medium and simmer until thickened, about 10 minutes. Add the vinegar and stir in the Gorgonzola. Stir in the roasted peppers and the parsley. Season, to taste, with salt and pepper. Keep warm until ready to serve.