Sunday, 2 February 2014

Pasta Arcobaleno

Anelletti con Bietola, Salami & Pomodori Secchi
Anelletti with Chard, Salami & Sun Dried Tomatoes

So how good is your knowledge of the Italian language, huh? See that pretty word up there, "Arcobaleno" ? That my friends, is the Italian word for rainbow. And try as I might, I can hardly think of a better name to describe what is going on in this plate of pasta! Every color and every flavor in a Sicilian world of cooking is in there! 

There is the chard, the beautiful dark green and orange chard, that was so earthy and even slightly bitter in the leaves, yet sweet and tender in the stalks... the tangy sun-dried tomatoes, the salty salami, the sweet Spring onion and the mild but mature Provolone cheese to smooth everything out a little. And all of those flavors combined with those slinky little pasta rings that the Sicilians love... yup! Although this dish had nothing to do with any Sicilian tradition... it's flavors and colors sure reminded me of home!

Of course, I couldn't resist this beautiful, deep and vibrant orange-colored chard when I saw it at the market hall yesterday- I know it is always there and that it grows in almost any color from the regular white, through yellow, orange, red and purple- but the orange was a first for me- doesn't looking at it just make you feel happy?!?!

One thing that goes really well with chard is sun-dried tomato- the tangy-sweet flavor compliments the earthiness of the chard wonderfully. And one thing you need to bear in mind, if you are not familiar with the colored varieties, is that they do tend to be much more intense and earthy tasting than the regular white, Swiss chard. Also, the smaller the plant is, the more "bitter" it will taste, as it is the juicy stalk of the plant that holds most of the sweetness of course... so the bigger the stalks, the milder and sweeter the flavor. 

You're going to love this for a number of reasons- firstly because it is delicious, secondly because it looks so incredible and thirdly- because it was SO quick and easy to make! In fact, writing up these few little lines here is taking me longer than it too for me to whip-up this little dish... So let's get started shall we?!!

First things first- get your water boiling for the pasta. Whilst you wait for that to happen, give the chard a good rinse. Then rinse it again. Chard loves sand... as does spinach. I don't and your guests won't either- so wash it well!

Once the water has come up to the boil, add a generous amount of salt and stir in the anelletti. Give them a good stir until the water comes back up to the boil so as to keep them from sticking together immediately, then reduce the heat to a low simmer and get back to the chard...

Cut the chard into bite-sized pieces... small bites ;-) and then separate the stalks from the leaves, as the stalks will obviously require a longer cooking time. And after the pasta has boiled away gently for 6-7 minutes- add those stalks to let them get a head-start and let them cook for 3 minutes. 

Whilst that is happening, cut off about 2" of a nice, strong-flavored salami and cut that into thin slices. Pop these into a frying pan and turn on the heat. 

Back to the pasta and chard... you are ready for the leaves now- the pasta has been in there for 9 minutes so far and strangely enough, those little rings do like to take their time! So- for the final 2-3 minutes, add the leaves and let them wilt-down slightly.

Now that the salami is starting to get crispy and the frying pan is coated in it's fat, you can add the finely sliced Spring onion and 2-3 sun dried tomatoes cut into slices, along with a little garlic if you like. Give the onion and tomatoes a minute or two in the frying pan whilst you drain the pasta and chard...  which of course you will then add them into the frying pan so that everything continues to cook together.

Season with plenty of nutmeg and pepper and then decide whether you think it needs a drizzle of olive oil or not before serving. Usually I would have, but I decided that it was slick and tasty enough from the salami this evening that it didn't need any extra fat.

I sprinkled my anelletti with a mature Provolone this evening, which is not a typical grating cheese for pasta, but it was there in the fridge, it was mild and not too salty and that was what I was looking for. Both the sun-dried tomatoes and the salami bring a lot of extra salt with them... this gave a nice balance which was refreshing and different- and I liked it!

And guess what... I think that maybe you will too! 

No comments:

Post a Comment