Answer: pretty bad. But I’ve been trying to cook meatless meals one or two nights a week, and when I do cook with meat, I want it to be fresh, flavorful and ethically raised. Hence, why I’m working for EcoFriendly Foods a few weekends a month; all of their animals are raised humanely on small family farms in the Shenandoah Valley.
When it comes to meatless meals, though, I need a dish that can compete — something that doesn’t make me feel like, “Ugh, it’s vegetarian night again” and wish I were grilling sausages instead. That’s where this pasta comes in.
It’s another Lidia Bastianich recipe, which in her book is paired with a type of homemade pasta called strangozzi. I did not have time to make fresh pasta, so I just used pappardelle — a somewhat random choice, but it’s what I had on hand, and it worked.
The almond sauce is basically a pesto — basil, a little mint, some garlic, toasted almonds and olive oil. You whir it together in a food processor and add it to the cooked pasta with some Swiss chard you’ve sauteed in olive oil with garlic and pepperocino.
Now, I’m pretty fussy about mint. For me, it can go either way. But in this dish it totally works. You can barely taste it — basil is still the predominate flavor — but it adds a bright, fresh element to the sauce. And the toasted almonds add a richness that stamps out any notion this meal is some sort of sacrifice. In fact, there are times I crave the light, fresh taste of this dish more than anything else. (more…)