East Meets West, in the Pasta Bowl

If you’ve been reading my blog for awhile, you will know that I have great admiration for the culture, food and wine of countries I love.  And my cooking tends to respect those traditions pretty closely.  On the other hand, you may also discern that my love of diversity and natural playfulness sometimes cause me to blend radically disparate cultures, to see what comes out.  Such was the case tonight.

I began with a desire to use a package of Bunapi Mushrooms I bought last week at Russo’s.  These are Japanese White Beech Mushrooms, organic and subtle, and I wanted to see where I could go with them.  I had recently explored some Bow Tie pasta recipes (Farfalle), and I thought they would go well.  Then, a funny thing happened on the way to the stove and table.  As I often do, I went to the internet for some ideas or a refresher on how to prepare an unusual item.  I explored a few recipes — nothing extraordinary — and then I looked at Pinterest, when the search page showed an attractive photo.  Guess what?  It was a picture from my own blog, posted in August, 2011, Vegan Delights: Grilled Polenta and Bunapi Mushrooms!  And it looked good!

I was in no mood to make polenta, but I figured it would also work with pasta, so I forged ahead, using the basic ideas and adapting to what I had available:

  • salt one zucchine, cut into julienne strips, let sit for 30 minutes and then wipe dry
  • dice one shallot and sauté in olive oil, adding the zucchine and cooking until tender
  • sauté the Bunapi as described
  • cook the farfalle (250 gm.) in a big pot of boiling salted water

Now for the big cross-cultural event: I flash-fried some flowering Chinese chives, also from Russo’s late last week, and added them to the pasta as I mixed it all together.   These are garlic chives with small, edible yellow flower buds on the tips, and they worked beautifully with some rock shrimp and farro I made last week.

Now all I needed to do was take the eggplant slices I had baked with tomato last night, add a bit of Scamorza cheese and olive oil, and broil, to serve with the pasta.  Here’s how it looked:

I actually had two different wines with the dish.  The first was Rkatsiteli, a white wine from the Republic of Georgia.  It was delicious last night with soup –more about that later — and it went well with the pasta.  When I finished that bottle, I opened a Costa D’Amalfi Rosato from Le Vigne di Raito, which I brought back from there during our visit in April.  It was excellent, particularly with the eggplant.

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