Wednesday, 18 September 2013

Getting Warmer

Risoni in Agrodolce con Peperone, Pomodoro & Origano
Sweet & Sour Risoni Pasta with Tomato, Peppers and Oregano

As the weather gets colder and colder- the dishes have to start making us warmer again in the evenings... and I know that the Autumn hasn't even really begun, never mind the Winter... and I know that much colder days lie ahead... but wow, did it ever feel cold walking home this evening!!! So supper needed to be a warming and satisfying affair- that much was clear. And being as I couldn't make up my mind whether I was in the mood for something Italian or Asian this evening... I decided to make something that was a little bit of both... kind-of!

I say "kind-of", because it is not only the Chinese that have a tradition of making sweet and sour food, there are many traditional Italian dishes that have a tangy combination of either vinegar or citrus juice and sugar or honey... and I love that contrast and juxtaposition of flavors! This was a really simple dish with very few ingredients... all cooked together in one pan and finished in just 20 minutes- excellent on a night like this! because who wants to wait or work too long before settling down to supper and who wants to be stressed-out having to organize lots of ingredients for a meal... well, not me and that's for sure!

I started off by briefly sautéing a classic "sofritto" of finely diced onion, celery and carrot in a little olive oil. After 2-3 minutes, I added the risoni- I would say a couple of handfuls per portion and then after stirring everything together, added a good, heaped tablespoon of tomato paste and enough boiling water to cover the pasta. I seasoned with salt and pepper and reduced the heat to a low simmer and let it boil away....

Whilst the pasta was doing its own thing, I took 2 tiny yellow bell peppers and diced them finely, finely sliced a Spring onion for later and blanched a peeled a tomato, from which I then removed the seeds and cut the rest into fine stripes.

The next thing I did was to add the finely chopped peppers and a teaspoon of delicious, smoked paprika powder. I stirred this in well and topped up the frying pan with more boiling water... it is pretty amazing how much liquid those little noodles can and will soak up! Basically, I was cooking them in a similar way to risotto, gradually adding the liquid little by little, until the pasta is rich, smooth and perfectly cooked!

After around 15 minutes cooking time, I added the tomato and Spring onion slices,  re-adjusted the seasoning and added both a couple of tablespoons of white balsamic vinegar and honey. And wow! Suddenly those flavors and the general aroma started to sky-rocket!

The last ingredients were plenty of tiny, fresh, plucked oregano leaves and a good sprinkle of pepper. I didn't add any olive oil as I thought it was rather unnecessary, nor did I add any grated cheese- I will leave those options up to you! Both would work- but this evening I decided to be more of a minimalist. Also- I didn't want to wait around any longer!

And if you are feeling hungry right now and feel tempted to try this out... I recommend you don't wait around to do so! Go eat! You're gonna enjoy it!

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