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Put Up & Preserve to Save Time & Money

Pasta Fresca Ingredients 600w

From the C@H Blog - October 24, 2015: 
Delayed gratification is a concept that I, like so many practitioners of domestic culinary arts before me have come to understand very well.  Today, like so many days in the life of our busy family, I am blind-sided by big company for dinner.  

Our kitchen door is always open, and today my husband will descend briefly with a truckload of assorted teenagers in need of meaningful sustenance between soccer on the island and hockey in the city.

Today, this Saturday in the winter of October, is proof of concept. Measurable, meaningful validation that so many summer and early fall evenings working late into the night, preserving and putting up the growing season's bounty for the season of rest ahead, were worth their weight in gold - and red and green and purple.


Season of rest is of course a misnomer.  Like most people, we are busy, busy all the time.  Rest refers only to what we see happening in the produce garden. Little grows, but beneath the mulch and the soil, nature works her regenerative magic in preparation for spring.

Above ground, in our pantry and kitchen, the fruits and vegetables of our labours sparkle in hundreds of glass jars alongside dried herbs, peppers and other such, waiting to be called into duty. One of my family's favourite meals - followed closely by my long-simmering, thick and chunky Sunday supper tomato sauce with pesto di verdure - is pasta fresca.  
Preserving montage 600w

Pasta fresca (translation: fresh pasta; fresh pulp) is really just a reference to the qualities of the sauce, which is nothing more than peeled tomatoes I've put up in glass jars, crushed then heated quickly (just to boiling then removed from the stove, covered) together with some mashed confit garlic and its infused oil, plus a few generous rubs of fresh-dried oregano leaves.

Into this hot pot of incredibly fresh and extraordinarily juicy, sweet and savoury (watery) sauce, goes hot dry (well-drained) papardelle pasta cooked just shy of al dente.  And here the magic happens.  The flavour-packed garlic and herb infused tomato water (juice) gets sucked up into the still-thirsty shy space in the pasta, and the fine pulpy threads of bright red tomato settle deliciously in between the noodles, now blushed pink.

Finally, an unctuous stream of excellent quality olive oil (like Domenica Fiore) is turned through the pasta, and the steaming pot is set out on the table with a small bowl of crushed, mild, fresh-dried chili peppers.  Grated or curled peccorino or parmesan are lovely options, but not necessary.  This dish is brilliant on its own, offering deep layers of honest, clean, bright flavours.

Confit garlic is an easy to make pantry staple that requires little more than quality garlic, extra virgin olive oil, a slow oven, and an afternoon otherwise occupied.  Using confit garlic in pasta fresca or any dish is a fantastic chef's trick that instantly imbues long-simmered goodness - more delayed gratification proof of concept.  Confit garlic is sweet, warm, nutty and mellow, so there is really no limit to how much you can use.  Two to three cloves, each in its own teaspoon of mild garlic-infused oil, per quart of fresh tomatoes is what I use and it seems just right.

So today, in 20 minutes or less - the time it takes the truckload to drive home from the ferry - I can deliver delayed gratification, fresh-picked summer, and all kinds of goodness to family and friends. And I can do it again and again, gratefully and gracefully until the end of the season of rest. Until it is time once again, to put up.

posted by Laura

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