Monday, July 14, 2008

let's (not) talk about sex

I hesitate to describe a dish as "sexy." As Terry Durack puts it, we have enough sex on beds and floors and up against walls to be having it off on our plates, too.

Food does not need to be sexy. Too much talk of sex in a food context, and my mind wanders to that truly regrettable scene from American Pie. I like food to make my palate happy. (And my arteries not too unhappy.) It doesn't need to stimulate anything else.

Nonetheless, the appellation is occasionally appropriate, and this dish probably deserves it. There's a certain je ne sais quoi about wide ribbons of dill pasta in a slippery vodka cream sauce, barely dressed with bits of smoked salmon. It's like a classy little black dress, sexy in an understated sort of way.

I suspect it falls into the nebulous, ill-defined category of "date food," which, as far as I have been able to determine, is either food you order and barely touch in order to impress your dining companion, or food that will supposedly get you laid.

Of course, that shouldn't stop you from making this pasta for yourself while wearing your oldest, fuzziest pajamas, and eating it as you watch trashy crime procedurals on television. It certainly won't stop me.

Fresh Dill Pappardelle with Smoked Salmon and Cream

If you're not feeling up to making fresh pasta, you can substitute good-quality dried pappardelle, and add dill to the sauce.

(Serves one, with leftovers.)

To make the pappardelle, combine one cup of flour, one egg, half a cup of finely chopped dill, a pinch of salt, a teaspoon of olive oil, and enough water to make an elastic dough. (For more detail on making fresh pasta, see here.) Roll out the dough and cut it into wide ribbons.

Set a pot of salted water on to boil.

Finely slice four shallots and saute them in butter in a large, heavy-bottomed pan over low heat. Add a small splash of vodka and the juice from half a lemon, and let it simmer until the fumes burn off. Add a half-cup of heavy cream, and let it simmer on very low heat.

When the water reaches a rolling boil, add the pappardelle. Cook for two to three minutes, or until tender. Drain the pasta.

Remove the sauce from heat, and stir in three or four pieces of smoked salmon, cut into strips. Add the drained pasta to the pan and toss with the sauce. Serve immediately.


Ann said...

Food may not need to be sexy, but sometimes it just is. ("I'm not bad. I'm just drawn that way.")

Love the sound of your barely dressed pasta!

adele said...

Sometimes a cigar is more than just a cigar? :P

Julie said...

I was about to say that I wouldn't call this date food but rather occasion food, but the occasion that immediately comes to mind is New Year's Eve which to me always seems to call for simple elegant food. Of course, New Year's Eve is the only holiday I can think of that is associated with having a date so I guess that means it's right back to date food.

All that aside, it sounds delicious and also very pretty with the green in the pasta and the coral-colored salmon.

Kim said...

Adele, I am again impressed with your pasta making and cooking.

adele said...

Julie - Really? I always thought of New Year's Eve as a "have too much to drink with your friends" holiday. Then again, maybe that's just because of my status as a recent college grad. :)

Kim - Thank you. :)

Cakelaw said...

LOL - I suspect I'd be making it in my old fuzzy PJs.