Monday, May 25, 2009

It's Unofficial!

It'd been a grueling week of business travel. I was near brain-dead on my flight home Friday evening with just enough energy left to catch up on some important current events (i.e. is "Octo-Mel" Gibson's girlfriend pregnant c/o US Weekly) and debates (i.e. what is the best way to "dress" your burger c/o Bon Appetit).  It was the latter topic that got me thinking about the long weekend ahead. Like many of us, I consider Memorial Day the unofficial start to summer. Sadly, it could not be considered barefoot weather in Santa Barbara this weekend so barbecued burgers were out, but I did my best to summon the summer spirit. 

Two things that always help are fresh tomatoes and "umbrella drinks." If I had to rank those, I'd definitely switch the order. Is it wrong to set out for the Farmers Market with the sole intention of getting ingredients to make an adult beverage? If you've ever had the Pimlico at the Hungry Cat then the answer would be a resounding "No." So, I picked up some freshly squeezed blood orange juice, mint and limes. 

But once there, I got giddy at the sight of boxes brimming with all shapes and sizes of Summer's signature vegetable: tomatoes! 

I picked up a few heirlooms and some herbs, which I thought would be delicious for a simple pasta dish. To take the whole freshness quotient up a notch, I picked up some homemade capellini a few stalls over. It's a luxury in my book to have fresh pasta, and frankly I don't have the patience to do it myself. As my dad once wisely told me, "some things are worth paying for," and I think fresh pasta qualifies (as does interior painting). 

Back at home, we got busy with the drink concocting. Additional necessary equipment: two well chilled old fashioned glasses, ice (I like a mixture of cubes and crushed), and good bourbon.

First we muddled the mint and a small amount of simple syrup. 

Then filled about half the glass with bourbon, adding equal parts orange juice and lime juice to fill up the glass. 

Garnish with a slice of lime and some fresh mint, and enjoy the fruits of your labor!  

If you like Mojitos, I would encourage you to try this. But the mint is key. You really can't go overboard. And the citrus takes this far away from a Mint Julep. 

Once cocktail hour had passed, it was time to get on to the main event. All that muddling had built up my appetite so this was a perfect dinner because it can be on the table in about 20 minutes with quick-cooking pasta and mostly raw ingredients. Simply cook the pasta in salted water until al dente.

Then make the sauce by adding butter, white wine and crumbled goat cheese to some sauteed shallots, along with a few handfuls of fresh herbs.
And gently toss in some diced tomatoes before plating.  

It's simple and delicious, bursting with the flavors of summer. Paired with a simple arugula salad with a lemon vinaigrette and shaved parmesan, you've got the perfect meal for an alfresco dinner in the gardens — or bundled up inside cursing the fact that Santa Barbara's "June Gloom" may be here a bit early this year. 

Herb Butter and Goat Cheese Linguine with Fresh Tomatoe
Adapted from Rachel Ray

1 lb capellini pasta
5 oz goat cheese, crumbled
6 Tbsp unsalted butter
2 shallots, finely chopped
1/2 cup white wine
1/4 cup finely chopped fresh parsley
1/4 cup finely chopped fresh basil
1/4 cup finely chopped fresh tarragon
2 Tbsp finely chopped fresh thyme
2 cups chopped heirloom tomatoes 
Salt and pepper

Bring a large pot of salted water to boil. Add pasta and cook al dente. Drain, reserving a ladleful of the pasta cooking water. 
While the pasta is cooking, melt the butter over a large skillet over medium heat. Add shallots and cook until softened, about 5 minutes. Stir in the white wine and cook until slightly reduced, about 2 minutes. Add the crumbled goat cheese and stir until well combined. Add herbs and mix well. 
Add the drained pasta to the cheese sauce and toss to coat. Season with salt and pepper. Add tomatoes and toss gently and warmed 1 minute. Again season with salt and pepper.  

No comments:

Post a Comment