Friday, July 31, 2009
Rustic Pine Nut Sauce
The recipe for Rustic Pine Nut Sauce can be found on page 796 of How to Cook Everything Vegetarian by Mark Bittman. Since it's a copyrighted recipe from a book I can't copy it in here, and obviously I can't link to it either. Some of the pages of the book are available on Google books, but unfortunately page 796 is not one of them. So you will have to follow along as best you can knowing only the ingredients and what I did with them!
This sauce was on a list somewhere else in the book of sauces that would go nicely with whole wheat pasta. We used Barilla Plus, which I was expecting to be a little whole wheat-ier than it actually was, which is probably because it isn't whole wheat pasta. Anyway, that was my motivation for making this sauce. Another plus is that the ingredients don't go bad that quickly. The sauce includes chopped pine nuts, chopped basil or parsley, bread crumbs, red onion, garlic, salt and pepper, olive oil, and wine (red or white). Optionally, you can add capers, but I don't like them that much, so I left them out. One of the cool things about this book is all the variations offered on each recipe. One of the variations I wanted to try was the lemony version, which calls for replacing the wine with lemon juice, and the capers with lemon zest. I wanted to use wine, though, so I decided to add only the lemon zest, since it is one of my new favorite flavors. Ken helped a little by slicing up the onion for me. My poor little basil plant is dying, I think, because he is very droopy lately, even though I set him up outside where he might actually get some sun. I took several leaves from the plant for the sauce, so at least I will get some good use out of him. I never had a green thumb; all plants in my care die shortly after I get them. :(
I cooked the ingredients, following the recipe as closely as possible. The cooking times in the recipe seemed a little too long, so I moved things along a little more quickly. I also halved the recipe because I only had 1/2 the amount of pine nuts, and we are only two people (most recipes feed 4). Towards the end of cooking, I added the halved amount of wine. It disappeared almost instantly! At this point I became very concerned. How could this be a sauce? It had no liquid! I added more wine, and more olive oil. It just fizzled right out. I was getting nervous, so I picked up a bit and tasted it. It was a little strongly wine flavored, but good. After a few minutes I turned off the heat and stirred in the basil. We decided to just use it as is and hope it was good.
I mixed the "sauce" in with my pasta as well as I could and made sure to get some in every bite. Lucky for us, it turned out delicious. This is when we realized what "rustic" means. It doesn't have to be liquidy to be a sauce! Plus, pine nuts are a little creamy as is, which gives a very nice texture to the sauce. It was some wonderful chunky goodness. I think the lemon zest was a nice little touch and I didn't feel that I was really missing anything by leaving out the (optional) capers. I might try this with lemon juice, but the wine turned out quite good. (I used some Fish Eye Pinot Grigio left over from a while ago. This is a cheap brand and has a screw top, so if you keep it in the fridge it should be fine for cooking, or even drinking, up to a few weeks. That way you can use a little at a time, as needed, and you don't have to open a new bottle for each recipe.)
I wish I could post the recipe for you... but I don't think it would be copyright violation for me to share it with you privately - so if you would like the recipe, I would be happy to share my cookbook. However, it is a fantastic reference book, so I highly recommend looking into obtaining your very own copy.