I am sure you have noticed that we have yet to announce a winner to the Taste of the Nation event coming up in about a month and a half. We have contacted a couple bloggers who were chosen as winners and they are unable to attend, therefore it is up to you. The first person who emails me at firstname.lastname@example.org wins the ticket to Taste of the Nation in Philly (http://strength.org/philadelphia/)on June 21. Good luck and we can not wait to find out the lucky winner.
Also on Dawn and my mind as of late is what we will be preparing for the Buitoni Foodbuzz Dinner coming up later this month. And that sets my mind on Italian food, gondolas, Vatican city, and other bizarre and tasty artifacts only originating in Italy. You know that my cooking if far from straight-lined with a veering toward outlandish fusion and rarely sticking to the flavor profiles and ingredients of a central area. It is the child in a candy shop affect, what can I say. My mind starts running wild through ingredients that would tasty heavenly in a dish and then the Aristotelian logic side says that ingredient has nothing to do with said dish. Back and forth they go sometimes like bad step children until one- usually the tougher more agile creative side says why not use shiitake mushrooms in a summer dish of sauteed rapini and orechiette and while you are at it place some fried zucchini strings on top for the added crunch.
That is the dish I am sharing today, and one that is quite simple and tasty. Orrechiete, those whimsical ears seem the proper pasta shape for spring eating anchored by the indecisive rapini and hyper fried zucchini strings. It is a dish to sweep away the doldrums of this Midwest cold front and bring to mind Venetian canals, San Marzano's, or whatever comes to mind when you think of that wild boot shaped country.
Spring Orecchiette with Rapini and Zucchini Strings
12 oz. orecchiette
2 T anchovy paste or 2 to 3 anchovy fillets
4 cloves garlic crushed
1/2 tsp fish sauce
2 T butter melted
1/2 red pepper julienned
1 bunch rapini
4 fresh shiitakes sliced and browned
4 T olive oil (plus 1 for sauteing)
1 zucchini julienned
1 C canola or peanut oil for frying
all purpose flour for dredging
salt and rep pepper flakes to taste
Cook orecchiette according to manufacturers instructions and set aside. Blanch rapini for one minute in boiling pasta liquid then saute it, garlic, and rep pepper in heavy skillet over medium high heat with one tablespoon oil for 3 to 4 minutes and remove from skillet. Dry skillet and cook mushrooms for about 5 minutes or until beginning to brown. Dredge zucchini strings shaking excess flour off. Heat canola oil in cast iron skillet until it reaches 350 degrees and drop zucchini strings in stirring frequently for 2 minutes to keep them from becoming a zucchini ball. Place on paper towels or newspaper and sprinkle on kosher salt. Combine oil, butter, a splash of pasta water, and anchovy paste well and toss with pasta and veggies. Taste and add salt and pepper to taste, about 1 1/2 tablespoons of salt and nearly a tablespoon of red pepper flakes. Top with zucchini strings and enjoy with a nice zinfandel.