Thursday, April 29, 2010

Dinner With Dan

Pappardelle with Pesto(ish) and Tapenade Toasts
Knowing my friend Dan was coming by for a late dinner after he got through rehearsal, I surveyed my stock in he fridge to see what could be in store for our culinary adventure. Suffice it to say, pasta was on the original menu and while I had given some thought to the form this pasta dinner would ultimately take, I was not committed to anything in particular. The previous night I enjoyed a lovely seared ahi tuna over arugula and, as luck would have it, my refrigerator yielded several key (and delicious) ingredients that could be easily manipulated into a new meal. Spring is here and with it, the desire for something light and fresh. At first I thought, "pesto!" But, one look at the pound of cheerfully colored bite-sized heirloom tomatoes took me in another direction. Lucky for Dan I did. Our dinner conversation included a long recount of how he became completely burnt-out on the classic basil/garlic/pine nut combo. But he found this new twist pleasing to the pallet. So here we go . . . a new dinner inspired by three things I like very much: pesto, warmer spring weather, and dinner with my buddy, Dan.


- 9 oz. pappardelle noodles
- 2 cloves garlic, peeled
- l lb. small heirloom tomato mix (or cherry tomatoes would work just fine), rinsed
- 4 Tbsp. olive oil, divided
- 1 small bunch Italian parsley leaves
- 1/2 c. fresh basil leaves
- juice from one lemon
- 1 tsp. sugar
- salt and pepper to taste
- four slices of good quality baguette, sliced on the diagonal
- 1/4 c. mixed olive tapenade
- 1/2 c. fresh ricotta cheese, divided

Place garlic cloves in food processor, pulse until finely minced. Add Italian parsley and basil leaves and pulse until finely chopped. Add tomatoes, sugar, lemon juice, and 3 Tbsp. olive oil. Pulse until mixture is blended, but not completely pureed. Season with salt and pepper. Pour into a medium sauce pan and heat over medium-low until warmed. Meanwhile, boil water and prepare pappardelle according to package directions to al dente.

Meanwhile, preheat broiler. Brush baguette slices on both sides with olive oil. Place 1 Tbsp. olive oil in a medium skillet and heat over medium-high. Toast both sides of bread in pan until they just begin to turn golden brown. Place in a medium baking dish and top each slice with a spoonful and tapenade and a dollop of ricotta cheese. Place until hot broiler and cook until heated through- 2-3 minutes. Watch it so that it doesn't become blackened!

Remove from oven. Toss sauce with cooked noodles and divide among two plates. Top pasta with a dollop of ricotta and serve toasts along with pasta. Quick, easy, light, and fresh. Yum.

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