Or to put it simpler; bow tie pasta with red pesto. Somehow that just sounds less good, doesn’t it?
Earlier this week I whipped up some pesto rosso, and now I’m gonna turn it into a creamy pasta sauce. Cremosa in rosso. Served with fresh vegetables, fragrant basil leaves, olive slices and topped with Parmesan curls, this is a cheerful looking dish. By far my favorite pasta sauce. It’s a creamy and rich sauce with tons of flavors. Those flavors also allow me to use lighter products than I normally would in a creamy sauce.
Farfalle (used a little less than a pound)
Parmesan curls (garnish)
Black olives, sliced
Basil, whole leaves
2 small (or 1 large) shallots
3 tbsp butter
3 tbsp flour
1 1/2 to 2 cups milk
1/4 cup Parmesan, grated
2 tbsp pesto rosso
1/8 tsp pepper
1/2 tsp salt
Optional: pine nuts
This is why I love shopping at the market. Little over 2 pounds of fresh, colorful and juicy bell peppers for only E1 ($1,50). Loads of green basil, rosemary, parsley and chives for a more than fair price. Just can’t beat that. I love to stroll around the market, see the brightly colored stands of fresh food, hear the vendors praise their merchandise, while enjoying some samples here and there. It makes me feel like I’m on vacation.
The pasta. This would work with any kind of pasta, but I went for farfalle, it’s just special to me. It looks so funny and summery, and it’s perfect to use in salads as well.
It’s a very simple dish with only a few ingredients. Cherry tomatoes, bell pepper, shallots, black olives, Parmesan and fresh basil. I cut the cherry tomatoes in quarters and thinly sliced the black olives.
I’m going to roast my bell pepper. It will make it sweeter and a little softer. Just a deeper flavor. There are so many ways to roast peppers, but my favorite way is to simply char it on my stove top. When it’s blackened enough, put it in a plastic bag (or glass bowl and cover with foil) and leave it there for a while. The skin will come off real easy that way.
I’m always dying to use this pasta bowl with matching two compartment bowl. I just love it, I really do. It has a warm and cheerful feel to it, almost a Tuscan look. I personally believe that 50% of how food tastes is determined by how it’s presented. I like presenting my food like this. I have lots of these dishes, bowls, trays and plates. It just seems to turn something simple into something special at times.
I’ve used a little over 1/4 cup grated cheese. You can also use the pre-grated cheese. Go with anything you have and use 1/4 to 1/2 cup.
I’m an organized cook -I clean as I go and keep things I need right next to me- especially when making a roux. So I already poured 1 cup of milk (I went for low fat milk) and used a total of 2 cups.
Bring the pasta to a boil in lightly salted water. I prefer my pasta al dente, but boil it as you normally would.
I’m making a semi-mornay sauce. Traditionally a mornay sauce is created by adding Parmesan and Gruyere to bechamel sauce. Add anything else, like cheddar, and it’s no longer considered a mornay sauce but it’s a cheese sauce. I will only add Parmesan, so I do have half a mornay sauce :)
Start by mincing the shallots. Really fine, there should be no large chunks (of anything) floating in your sauce.
Sautee the shallots in 3 tbsp butter. I’ve used margarine – it’s equally fat but contains less saturated fats than real butter. Go with whatever you prefer, though.
Once the onions are translucent, put 3 tbsp flour in there and stir until it’s smooth. Don’t leave the stove now because it only takes a split moment for the roux to burn and you’ll be starting all over again. Cook for 2 to 3 minutes while whisking now and then, this will neutralize the rawness of the flour.
I always use this whisk when making a sauce that can absolutely contain no lumps. They’re only 50 cents at Ikea, so I have tons of them.
After roughly 2 to 3 minutes you can add the milk. Now everyone has their own way -I know one of the most common ways is to slowly add milk (or broth) and stir, pour more milk in and stir- but I don’t do it like that. I just pour in one cup and then I stir. Somehow it just works better for me that way.
Add salt and pepper to taste. I went for 1/2 tsp salt and 1/8 tsp white pepper, and whisked as if my life depended on it! No, that’s not lumpy pieces of flour you see floating there, it’s the onion! Geez.
Now add the Parmesan, stir until it’s all melted and smooth. Taste to see if it needs a bit more Parmesan, with me it always does.
Now for my favorite part: turning this pristine, white mornay into something with a bit more color. Grab the pesto rosso and add two heaping tbsp.
I’m truly pathetic, I just get a real kick out of seeing the color change. Always keep tasting what you prepare, so check the seasoning and adjust if you have to. This is such a rich sauce, the flavors are amazing. I swear, I just boil the pasta to have something to eat this sauce with because it would look bad, real bad, if I would just spoon it out of the pan.
The pasta will be done by now. Drain it, and pour a teeny bit of olive oil over it and toss it around. This will prevent the pasta from sticking together and forming a rather unhappy looking dough clump. Some say you can also add the oil to the water when you boil the pasta, but that doesn’t work for me. I think they’re all lying because it can not possibly be my fault that it doesn’t work :)
Take the skin off the bell pepper and cut in small strips. Grab that pretty dish/bowl/platter and put the pasta in. Lightly coat it with the sauce and just play with the ingredients. Make it look fun and pretty. Garnish with some basil leaves and Parmesan curls. Serve with a little extra grated Parmesan and olive slices on the side.
You can also turn this into a salad type of thing, easy side-dish for BBQ’s or other get-togethers. Just make the sauce a little thinner then and serve at room temperature rather than cold, serve the leftover sauce in a separate bowl.