Blog to Remember: A Recipe for Pasta

As a new means of annoying readers–ahem, remembering things I’ve cooked so I can do it again–I will start posting kitchen exploits. This one, involves last night’s dinner. As usual, dinner last evening was a last minute affair. Searching through the fridge I found a couple packages of grocery store ravioli, like maybe Buitoni, with cheese and chicken. There was not much with which to make a sauce, particularly one that Theo would eat, but I dug around the pantry and fridge to see what I could find. While hunting around the freezer, I saw some frozen peas. That caused me to flash on a dish I remember eating at an Italian place in Fresno about 2o years ago. Unfortunately, I can’t quite remember the name of the place. It was out on Shaw Ave near West. It was owned by one of the kids or something of the Fresno Italian Restaurant dynasty, the DiCicco’s. Wait! Lido’s is what it was called, I think. The place was pretty cuisine-y for Fresno in those days, different feel than the old school chain places the family ran, and apparently still runs. It was a pasta course with a creamy tomato sauce with peas. It was good, and the memory wouldn’t let me go. I thought, “What the hell, I’ll play with that idea and see what happens.”

I found a small onion, chopped it fine and threw it in a hot saute pan with a couple Tbls. olive oil. After the onions started to wilt, I turned the heat down and added a couple cloves minced garlic. I started adding some chicken broth, about 2/3 of a cup, but in about 3 or 4 increments, waiting for each to reduce down before adding the next. I learned this from Lynne Rossetto Kasper’s first book, “The Splendid Table”. I used to love to listen to her show on KUOW in Seattle, and still can’t really believe there is not a single freaking station in the SF Bay Area, self-annointed foodie capital of America, that carries the program. At least there’s a Website and podcasts.

I finely diced a couple smallish carrots, and threw those in with the last of the broth. While that was simmering, I measured up a cup of the frozen peas, and found a large can (24 oz?) of chopped tomatoes in the pantry. Chopped would not do, so I got out my aged Cuisinart food processor and zinged them up really well. I still have the first Cuisinart I ever bought, a DLC-10 plus, which was in about 1985 or so. The model was later renamed The Classic, or something like that. I can’t believe it still runs. Maybe it will outlast me. I wonder if the new ones are still built like this. I’d be happy to endorse their products. At least their food processors. At least the ones they sold in the mid-80’s.

Anyway, I threw the pureed tomatoes in to the pan and let that all simmer for awhile. I’m not sure how long. Perhaps long enough to boil 4 quarts of water for the pasta. Then I added the peas and salt and pepper. After a few minutes of cleaning up, I put the pasta on. Then I had to face facts. I had no cream. And I have NEVER had luck adding milk, or even half-and-half to a sauce. It always curdles. And I was not going to the store now. I stood there staring into the refrigerator and finally saw the Greek yogurt–you know that brand no one can really pronounce, FAH-yeh. Damn that shit is good. Anyway, I got brave and finished the sauce with a couple-three big spoons of that full-fat Fage. I added until it looked the right color.

There was almost enough vegetable matter in it to justify going with it as a one dish meal. So we did. And you know, it wasn’t half bad. Sorry I didn’t get picture. You’ll just have to make it yourself to see it.