Monday, April 6, 2009

Vegetable Ribbon Pasta

Some meals are almost as much about presentation as taste. This meal requires certain visual elements in order to be fully appreciated. The ribbons of pasta and vegetables intermingle so that you have a generally uniform look, and it becomes quite beautiful. I was going to just use a whole wheat pasta that I already had on hand, but in the end I went out of my way to get egg pappardelle, and I'm glad I did. (If whole wheat pappardelle exists, they don't carry it at Pavillions or at Trader Joe's. But if you find it, please, use it!)

The overall flavor of this dish is subtly sweet, with a hint of licorice from the tarragon and a nutty crunch here and there from the toasted walnuts. The flavors come together on your tongue in a really delightful way. Simple though this dish is, you can definitely fool your palate into thinking it's a lot more complex.

Speaking of complex. I am a fan of probably-unnecessary kitchen gadgets, I will admit - and this is the perfect recipe for digging out your mandoline if you have one. It makes the slicing of the carrots, zucchini and onion infinitely more manageable. If you don't have one, you can use a sturdy vegetable peeler to thinly slice the zucchini and carrots into ribbons.

Vegetable Ribbon Pasta
adapted from Everyday with Rachael Ray
serves 4


8 oz. pappardelle pasta
1 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter
3 medium carrots, peeled and sliced into thin ribbons
1/2 large onion, thinly sliced
salt and pepper
1 medium-large zucchini, halved crosswise and thinly sliced lengthwise
1/4 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup skim milk
1 tablespoon chopped fresh tarragon
1/2 cup walnuts, toasted and finely chopped


1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil and salt it. Cook the pasta until just al dente, about 7 or 8 minutes. Drain and reserve 1/2 cup of the starchy cooking liquid.

2. In a large skillet, melt the butter over medium-high heat. Add the onions and carrots, season with salt and pepper, and cook for about 6 minutes, stirring frequently, until carrots are crisp-tender and onions are softened.

3. Add zucchini, cream and milk and cook, stirring, until the liquid begins to bubble. Reduce heat to a gentle simmer and continue to cook until sauce is thickened, about 4-5 minutes. Stir in tarragon.

4. Add the pasta, reserved cooking water, and walnuts to the skillet and toss to coat everything evenly. Serve.

This meal is a slightly more elegant and interesting version of your typical pasta and veggies. Enjoy!

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