Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Recipe: Fresh Garlic, Roma Tomato and Basil Confit with Angel Hair Pasta

The morning of the day we left for vacation I pulled my garlic bulbs.
Rain threatened, and my years of experience associate "vacation" with "rain".
The garlic could afford to die back another week - we'd only be gone for a week - but I figured that rain-fattened heads of garlic would split and dry badly, while the already dry bulbs I harvested would be perfect for drying tightly.
So I pulled them and laid them on racks in the garage to dry.

The back door was cracked open to allow the cats to go in and out (please do not bother to comment - my little mousers would have gone nuts trapped indoors for a week) and the air would circulate well enough.

When we returned a week later to a trashed garage, we soon figured out the culprit... Herb saw a racoon... cat food and birdseed were scattered everywhere, but my garlic was perfectly dried and ready to clean, trim, bunch and hang. The critters hadn't bothered the garlic, but neither had it kept them away.

The weather had turned- there was no rain all week, a dry north wind, the nights were cool and the days were warm. I could have left the garlic in the ground. C'est la vie.
I'm not sure which is which variety-wise. I bought a bunch of different varieties when we had a garlic farmer come to speak at our Herb Society tea a few years ago.
Of course I can tell the elephant from the others, and some are pink skinnned and some are white, but I'd have to find my notes to guess what they all are.
ANYHOW, I once read something about growing an optimum garlic for your own use, probably in Kitchen Garden or Organic Gardening magazines... that I'll share with you here.

You need to plant only your biggest cloves from the head. In the early autumn. In rich soil. And then do that again next year, and repeat again the year after. By the third year of selection and proper growing, your garlic should have adapted to your particular location... and you will have 'selected' the best for your location.

We ate the fish Fish FISH we caught, all week we ate fish*. Enough! I'm ready for fruits and veggies for the rest of the summer!

*However! we did get out between times to eat at Bortelli's (more fish, yes, but the setting on the Lake Michigan beach where we had our lunch has a million dollar view), Luciano's classic Italian, The Hamlin for breakfast, Ronnie's Ribs, and the Jamesport Brewery. You can eat well for a week in Ludington without nary a ringer.

Anyway, here's the recipe I meant to relate, what with all the sweet fresh garlic and the current basil blowout, and what with using up the last of the frozen Viva Italia tomatoes trying to make room in my freezer for the tomato harvest to come ...

Pasta with Tomato Confit

You'll need an oven proof casserole which will determine the size of your recipe.

Make a bed of basil leaves in the bottom of the casserole, depth depending on how much you love basil... Fit as many cored Roma (Italian paste) type tomatoes as will fit snugly, core side down, on the bed of basil. Tuck slivers of fresh garlic into the spaces.

Lightly season. Salt, ground black pepper.

Drizzle over enough olive oil to come halfway up the sides of the tomatoes.

Bake, uncovered, at 350 degrees until the tomatoes become browned and carmelized, and softened. (About 1 hour or so.)

Cook the angel hair pasta (it takes like 2 minutes! or cook the pasta of your choice), drain and place in a large serving bowl. Yes, I cooked these birds nests of nidi capellini right in with the green beans - saved a pan!
Dump the hot tomato-basil confit over the pasta and toss gently. (Or, in this case I added the pasta right into the casserole of tomato confit.)

Plate it up while warm and top with freshly grated Parmesan cheese.

...life is good

Thursday, July 12, 2007