Saturday, April 9, 2011

Potato Tomato Galletti

Tonight's pasta was an exercise in making food out of nothing. We had a couple of tomatoes, a couple of new potatoes and some other pasta standby stuff, so it wasn't too bleak, but I didn't have anything substantial in the larder.

While the galletti were boiling I fortified some Irish butter with some olive oil, peeled and chopped the potatoes and started them cooking, a sort of half-saute, half-poaching in a significant amount of butter, along with some diced sweet onion and a couple smashed garlic cloves. When the potatoes had some color, I added a couple of chopped plum tomatoes. I like the combination of tomato and potato, but I was never able to make a decent pasta sauce that combined them until I abandoned the convention of using peeled, canned tomatoes for the sauce. Fresh tomatoes sauteed seem to hold together better, and with some black pepper, the vegetal brightness of the tomato seems to work well with the rich combination of butter and potato starch. That combination is what makes the sauce come together nicely when I add the pasta and a little pasta water. The starch from the potato and the starch leeched into the pasta water act as a thickener while the butter forms a nice emulsion. After tossing the pasta to coat it, I added some shaved parmigiano and finely chopped chives. These were not winter chives, just normal from Jewel chives. I don't think I've ever used chives on pasta before, but they have a natural affinity for both potatoes and butter, and it tasted great. (vg)

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