Pasta-Making May Tangle You Up at First. but You'll Soon Get the Hang of It

Sunset, March 1985 | Go to article overview

Pasta-Making May Tangle You Up at First. but You'll Soon Get the Hang of It


You must have noticed that pasta--once a faintly comic, faintly ethnic vaudeville turn among foods--has become a class act. The noodle, at last, is nouveau.

One reason: the varied shapes that were sold only in Italian specialty markets can now be found almost everywhere. Another: readily available, reasonably priced pasta machines make it possible to produce your own fresh pasta. The first attempts may tangle you up like Laocoon and his serpents, but you'll soon get the hang of it. (The hang, or rather the drape, is one of the keys to success.)

PArt of the popularity is that pasta tastes good with such an amazing range of sauces. Familiar tomato-based ones will always be favorites, but green and white sauces have their followings, too.

David Canright's Mediterranean-style sauce is light on tomato but rich in flavor, with leftover chicken and pine nuts providing additional body. Without the lavish use of butter and cream of Tetrazzini, his preparation is kinder to dieters. Pasta with Mediterranean Chicken Sauce 1/4 cup olive oil or salad oil 1/4 cup pine nuts 1 Large onion, chopped 2 Cloves garlic, minced or pressed 1-1/2 teaspoons each dry basil and oregano leaves 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon crushed dreied hot red chillies 2 small zucchini (about 1/2 lb. total), ends trimmed and sliced 1/8 inch thick 1/2 pound mushrooms, sliced 2 medium-size tomatoes, cored and chopped 1 cup cooked chicken or turkey, torn in bite-size shreds 1 package (10 oz.) fresh or dry fettuccine Boiling water Salt and pepper

Heat 2 tablespoons of the oil in a 12- to 14-inch frying pan over medium-high heat. Add nuts and cook, stirring, until lightly toasted, about 1 minute. With a slotted spoon, lift nuts from pan; set them aside.

To the pan, add the onion, garlic, basil, oregano, and chillies. Stir until onion is limp, about 4 minutes. Add remaining oil, if needed, then add the zucchini, mushrooms, and tomatoes; stir 3 minutes. Add the chicken and stir just until hot, about 1 minute longer.

At the same time, cook the pasta in 4 to 6 quarts boiling water until tender to bite, about 2 minutes for fresh pasta or 8 to 10 minutes for dry pasta (or as package directs).

When pasta is done, drain and pour onto a rimmed platter or shallow bowl. Spoon chicken sauce over pasta and mix by lifting with two forks. Sprinkle with the pine nuts and 1/4 cup of the cheese. Offer remaining cheese and the salt and pepper at the table to add to individual servings. Makes 4 to 6 servings.

Excessive modesty for a long time kept Oris Scarborough of King City from sending us his recipe for chili verde, but Margaret Harrell finally persuaded him to do so. Mrs. Harrell, who comes from an early California family, says that Chefs' recipes for Mexican dishes sometimes startle her. But this one, she feels, has the clear ring of authenticity.

The Harrell family finds this dish perfect for cold or hot weather, for picnics, and for freezing. Our tasters, a random assortment who seldom agree on food matters, were unanimous in their praise. Chili Verde According to Oris 4 pounds lean boneless pork butt or shoulder 2 tablespoons salad oil 1 large onion, chopped 4 or 5 large cloves garlic, minced or pressed 1 large can (7 oz.) diced green chillies 1 can (about 1 lb.) tomatoes 1 can (about 13 oz.) tomatillos Salt and pepper Cilantro (coriander) leaves Warm corn or flour tortillas

Trim off and discard excess fat from meat. Cut meat into 1-inch cubes. Add oil to a 5- to 6-quart pan and place over medium to medium-high heat. Add the pork cubes, a portion at a time, to make a single uncrowded layer; cook, stirring, until browned on all sides. Lift out meat as browned and set aside. …

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