Tuesday, March 17, 2009

seeing green

Shamrock antennae. "Kiss Me, I'm Irish" shirts. Open containers of beer on the T. Verdant vomit in the streets.

It may be Erin-go-bragh, but the festivities that lead up to St. Patrick's Day in Boston make Adele go "Bleah."

Frankly, there are some things that should never be green; I think that beer is one of them. Maybe I'd be more open to the idea of rowdy inebriation if I actually drank some of the emerald-hued brew, but I think I'd just be sick - and still annoyed at all the drunken revelers on the Green Line.

If there must be green food, I'd rather make green pasta instead.

No, there's no food coloring involved. I'm referring to parsley pasta with leeks, which is a dish that actually has no connection with St. Patrick's Day whatsoever. (Just in case "pasta" wasn't a dead giveaway.)

It actually has its origins in one of Kitty's personality quirks: Kitty has a fascination with green food. (This applies equally to both baby spinach and lime gummy candy, so whether this is a healthy or unhealthy fascination is still up for debate.) Several months ago, when I asked for menu suggestions, she challenged me to create a meal that was entirely, naturally green.

I remembered reading a recipe for pasta with parsley and leeks in the New York Times; it didn't take much to tweak the concept by adding the parsley to the pasta dough itself. Paired with a green salad and followed by a green dessert, it made Kitty very happy.

Should you prefer something other than the usual corned beef and cabbage for your St. Patrick's Day festivities, or if you're looking for a vegetarian option, you can create an appropriately color-themed meal by serving this pasta with a salad of mixed greens, Granny Smith apple, and Sage Derby cheese, followed by pistachio or green tea ice-cream. You can even serve it with green beer, if you must.

Just don't sit next to me on the T later, please.

Parsley Pasta with Leeks

Concept nicked from a recipe that appeared in the New York Times. If you'd rather not make your own pasta, you can use spinach pasta and add extra chopped parsley to the dish at the very end.

(Serves one, with leftovers.)

To make the pasta, start by dumping two cups of flour on a clean countertop. Crack in four egg yolks, add a glug of olive oil, and a few tablespoons of water. Stick your fingers in the well and stir, pulling the flour in, until you have a shaggy mass of dough. Knead in half a cup of finely chopped flat-leaf parsley. Knead further, until you have a smooth, elastic ball of dough. (For more detailed pasta-making instructions, go here.) Wrap the dough in plastic. Let it rest in the fridge for an hour.

After an hour, pull the dough from the fridge and give it some time to lose its chill. Roll and cut it into fettucine using a pasta machine. Set the pasta aside.

For the sauce, begin with a bunch of leeks. Trim off the dark green parts, reserving just the white and pale green portion. Rinse them thoroughly - leeks grow in sandy soil, and they can harbor a lot of grit - then slice them into thin strips. Peel and mince two cloves of garlic, and finely chop another handful of flat-leaf parsley.

Set a large frying pan on the stove over low heat. Add a knob of butter and a little olive oil to the pan. Once the butter has melted, add the leeks and garlic. Season with a dash of red chili flakes and a sprinkling of salt. Pour in a splash of white wine, and turn up the heat. Once the fumes have burned off, turn the heat back down to low.

Continue to cook, stirring occasionally, until the leeks have softened and started to caramelize. Turn off the heat.

Cook the pasta in boiling salted water. Drain, reserving a few tablespoons of the cooking liquid. Transfer the pasta and the cooking liquid to the pan. Sprinkle with the extra handful of chopped flat-leaf parsley. Toss well. Serve immediately.


Pam said...

I'm always horrified by foods colored unnaturally on St. Patrick's Day, be it beer or bagels or whatever. Your pasta, on the other hand, seems like a perfect dish for people who need their food green today :)

adele said...

Pam - Green bagels? *sigh* I think some people need their food coloring privileges revoked.

I deliberately posted a recipe for a green dish, just so that no-one could suggest dyeing it green. I intend to post about shepherd's pie after the danger has passed. :)

Philosofya said...

See, you had me totally ready to do this until this:

"To make the pasta, start by dumping two cups of flour on a clean countertop."

Living in the Big Apple is a lot like living in a real apply, worms everywhere and it gets crowded quickly.

No countertop for me, but it looks delicious.

Cakelaw said...

LOL - the idea of green beer makes me a little green too. Your pasta looks great though.

adele said...

Philosofya - "Plastic-wrap-covered-countertop" qualifies as clean, for some definition of clean.

Cakelaw - Glad I'm not alone. :)