Oh, how I love Italian food.
I eat it all the time,
Not just ’cause how good it tastes
But ’cause how good it rhymes.
Insalata, cremolata, manicotti,
Shrimp francese, Bolognese,
Fried zucchini, rollatini,
Fettuccini, green linguine,
Oops–I think I split my jeani.
by Shel Silverstein
If Italy doesn’t make Shel Silverstein their poet laureate, I will eat my hat. But right now, I am stuffed! I got to dine solo at 208 Garfield, a yummy little place (it’s a coffee shop and a wine shop!) connected to the PLU bookstore. It was a scrumptious, solitary meal.
I am including this photo, taken by my SIL, who claims this tree is my botanical twin. Really the tree’s tresses are better than mine, but my mop is a dead ringer for fusilli pasta. I may have spent years envying those spaghettini-haired beauties with their silky strands, those linguini-headed lovelies, but I have (on a good day) more or less made peace with which noodle I am. I found this pasta cataloging postcard in San Francisco but it features no curly noodles. Discrimination? Perhaps.
While in SF, my friend Jesse introduced me to something you will want to add to everything except your granola: frizzled shallots. Get some oil – I use rice bran oil – hot in a pan but not smoking. Slice some shallots – as many as you like, as thin as you like. Once the pan is hot (you can determine that with a drop of water or a small slice of shallot – wait for the sizzle) place them all in and let them sizzle-fry (frizzle!) until brown. They will caramelize and be ever so flavorful.
I like them on salad or pasta and you can store the excess in the fridge as a handy flavor booster for dull leftovers. Here’s a recipe I used them in once I got home from San Francisco. This pasta was inspired by (but nothing like) a pizza I had at Pizzeria Delfina.
Pasta Delfina for the Frizzle-Haired
Get a big pot of water boiling while you chop some broccoli rabe or broccolini (the stem ends are often dry so cut that off) into 1″ pieces. Once the water is boiling, salt it (with about a teaspoon) then drop the broc in for 2 minutes. Then pluck it out and plop it in an oily pan. Once the water is back on the boil, add a bit more salt and fix yourself some whole wheat fusilli (of course!) pasta. Keep an eye on it while you sauté the broc and once the pasta is al dente, drain it and toss it all together with some frizzled shallots, garlic infused olive oil* and toasted walnuts or pine nuts. I topped this with a marinated fresh mozzarella from Trader Joe’s that is spicy and wonderful. If you can’t get that, then regular fresh mozzarella and a sprinkle of red pepper flakes should spice it up.
*You can purchase time-saving garlic-infused olive oil or just warm up some olive oil on the stove top with crushed or minced garlic in it. I use a warming burner on my stove to ensure that the oil does not get overly hot since olive oil destabilizes at over 350 degrees and loses its healthy properties. If you do not have a warming burner, then use the lowest setting on your stovetop and keep an eye on it. If it starts to get too active (bubbly and frizzly) then take it off the heat and let it sit, covered, to infuse.