Sunday, July 15, 2007

Bowties, broccoli and basil

These days, if it isn't being cooked on the barbecue, it's happening on the stove top. The oven is getting it's well deserved rest. Now, I know that for many people, the barbecue is a pain. I won't argue that point. It is. Especially when you've got an old gas one, and have been too lazy to get new "briquettes". And the thing is a little rusty here and there. I look longingly at those shiny stainless ones, all lined up in the store, saluting me with their open lids as I walk by. Those heavy-duty knobs and industrial strength steel grates tell me that those things mean business! But I go home to my little Sunbeam gas grill and am grateful that I have this humble machine. It gets the job done, and what more can I ask?

Well, for one, I can ask for something I can eat at room temperature, and that's made on the stove top. Especially when the weather is hot enough that even the gas grill seems too much. And when it comes to cookin' on top, I seem to be fixated on noodles these days. Last time, I explored the noodles of Japan. This time, I turn to Italy.The Italians have taken the simple noodle and created a vast panoply of possibilities. Spaghetti, linguine, fusili, shells, orzo -- you name it. If you can think of a shape, it probably exists in a noodle. For today's dish, I dug deep into the pantry and came out with bowties. They're quite wonderful for capturing sauce, but let's face it - aren't they wonderful to look at on the plate? I mean, they sit there cheerfully, practically smiling at whatever it is you can dream up to pair them with. They retain their appearance when cooked, so you can design a dish with shapes in mind, as well as colors.

So I had this head of organic broccoli, and a couple of leftover scallions from the soba dish. The dark green would definitely pop against the creamy colored pasta. But it needed more. Then I remembered the 5 purple basil plants I've got growing outside. Now, I have no idea if I'm making this up or if it's true, but I associate purple basil with Asian food, and green basil with Italian. Or any other cuisine that might use basil. Not that Asian cuisine doesn't also use green basil, but I'm not sure if I've ever seen it used in Italian food.But no matter. It's what I had, so it's what I used. Besides, it's purple. And this dish was organizing itself around color, so the purple and the green seemed like a fine idea.

While boiling salted water for the noodles, and steaming the broccoli which I had cut into florets, I poured a good slosh of olive oil into a pan. Then add about 2 heaping teaspoons of garlic, minced very fine. Add the scallions, sliced very thin, and stir for a couple of minutes. When the broccoli has barely been steaming for 2 minutes, turn it off, drain and add to the olive oil mixture. Drain the noodles, return to the pot and add the oil mixture. Add more oil if needed. Add chopped basil (any color will do). This dish actually tastes best at room temperature. Perfect for those summer picnics!Since I didn't have any Parmesan to sprinkle over the top, I did without. Also, if you've got tortellini instead of bowties, it works great. I think the first time I made something like this, it was with cheese tortellini.

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16 comments:

Patricia Scarpin said...

One of the ways I make pasta at home frequently is with broccolini, Toni - my husband loves it and it is a healthy and good way of escaping a bit from the good old tomato sauce.

Your dish looks super yummy!

toni said...

Patricia - I love the way you put that - escaping a bit from the good old tomato sauce. Yes!

Lydia said...

Love the use of both basils in this dish. I might try a bit of lemon zest, or some olives, too.

toni said...

Lydia - Love the suggestion of lemon zest or olives. I'll definitely give that one a try!

Chris said...

Dee-lish! I love bow ties. But, you know I have never eaten purple basil? Bad Italian I am!!!

Looks great, Toni!

Shayne said...

I agree grillin is a pain and I don’t even own a gas grill. I have a charcoal grill/smoker and even though it is a big pain I love it and I have gotten pretty good at it to. People are always asking me why I don’t get a gas grill (the same people that think I am nuts for not having a microwave) and I tell them why when there is so much more flava this way HA. I truly understand your love of your old faithful.

I grew purple basil last year and it is so beautiful unfortunately my herbs are in the HELP I’V FALLIN AND I CAN’T GET UP category. I am so bummed.

Thank you this looks so good for a hot day.

toni said...

Chris - This is what I was talking about. Is purple basil used in Italian cooking? Ask your nona!

Shayne - Charcoal gives a better flavor, I think, but I finally succumbed to the convenience of gas.

katiez said...

Mon mari paints the barbecue with shiny black paint every spring - that way the siren song of the pretty new ones isn't quite so loud (10,000 bucks for a barbie?)
Love your salad, I agree summer food needs to be cool and pretty and I use purple basil in everything. I like lemon basil, too! Thanks for stopping by my blog ;-)

JennDZ - The Leftover Queen said...

Hi Toni! Thanks so much for stopping by my blog! I agree I have never seen purple basil in Italian cooking and I always have the same association as you - Purple for Asian, Green for Italian!

valentinA said...

Hmm, your bowties with broccoli & basil sound great. I can aready smell the aroma of the basil!
And yes, bowties are way too cute=)

toni said...

Katiez - I wish I had a mari to paint my barbeque!

Jenn - I'm glad I'm not the only one with this mindset.

Valentina - I love, love, love the way purple basil smells!

Terry B said...

This is my kind of dish, Toni! A little cut up chicken breast sautéed with the vegetables would turn it into a hearty one-dish meal!

An interesting aside about "bowtie" pasta [and yes, I call it that too], is that farfalle is actually Italian for a much more poetic word: butterflies.

toni said...

Terry - I love it! I never knew that farfalle was Italian for butterfly.

I have made this dish with sauteed chicken breast, and yes, it's excellent. I wanted a vegetarian dish that could be expanded to include meat. I seem to be cooking that way these days.

ann said...

it's so the time of year for pasta and fresh veggies. And what a wonderful idea to use the purple basil. Beautiful!

Toni said...

Ann - Thanks! I adore the look and the smell of it!

Toni said...

Greetings from another foodie/Toni. I love the photo of the Farfalle on the map. Good looking dish too.