July 3, 2006

Provençal Pasta

So much of our inspiration for recipes comes from meals we’ve had in restaurants. I’m sure most cooks (especially those with a blog about food!) feel the same. When I see food prepared well, I’m usually very excited to try and recreate it, and improve on it if I think I can.

This is especially true for my husband. He recently ate a pasta dish at a little café and he came home raving about it. He went on about it since it was so different than most Italian flavored pasta sauces. This one was tomato based, but seasoned with herbes de provence. It also had ham and onions, so he thought. I suggested that he try and recreate the dish for me since I knew I’d love it.

Herbes de Provence is a dried mix of herbs, usually including thyme, marjoram or oregano, rosemary, basil and savory, with optional additions of lavender, fennel, tarragon and chervil. You can make your own or buy a mix, just watch out for ones containing salt. It tastes especially great as a rub for pork chops.

Paul’s pasta recipe turned out to be one of the yummiest pastas I’ve had. It felt very Provençal and the flavors were perfect for summertime. He added chopped red bell pepper, onions, and zucchini to the sauce, and kept the ham as well. We concluded that sliced mushrooms would also be a great addition. This is really as easy as making a simple marinara but substituting Provençal herbs for the Italian ones and throwing in some veggies.

This is also going to be my addition to ARF/5-a-day Tuesday over at Sweetnicks. She puts together a great weekly recipe roundup of recipes filled with fruits, vegetables and antioxident rich foods.

Paul's Provençal Pasta

2 cups dried short pasta (penne, macaroni, rotini, etc)
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 small red or yellow onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
2-3 Tbsp ground dried herbes de provence
(or less if using dried but not ground)
1/3 cup chopped fresh basil
2 cups crushed tomatoes
Salt and pepper
2 slices ham, chopped
2/3 medium zucchini, diced
1 small red bell pepper, thinly sliced
½ lb. sliced white mushrooms, optional
Grated parmesan

Heat the olive oil in a sauté pan. Add the onion and garlic and cook until onion is translucent. Add the herbes de provence and cook 1 minute. Add the crushed tomatoes and bring to a simmer. Add some salt and pepper. Taste and add more herbes de provence if the flavor isn’t pronounced. Let this sauce cook for about 10 minutes while you prepare the vegetables.

In a separate sauté pan, heat a tsp of oil and sauté the bell pepper and zucchini until just tender but still slightly crisp. Lightly salt the vegetables. Remove from skillet and sauté the mushrooms in the same skillet, if using them.

Add the chopped ham and basil to the tomato sauce and stir well. Turn down to low and keep warm. Bring a large pot of water to a boil and salt it well. Add the pasta and cook according to package directions. Drain well and toss with the pasta sauce and vegetables. You can add a little pasta water to the sauce if it's too thick. Sprinkle grated cheese on top and dive in! Serves 2-3.


Jennifer said...

What a lovely photo!

I love it when my experiments to recreate something from a restaurant turn out well. Your pasta sounds like a perfect solution to leftover market veggies...

Tanna said...

Sounds perfect, looks perfect. It's so wonderful to create!

Ivonne said...

Excuse my ineloquence but all I can think of to say is yummy yummy yummy yummy yummy yummy yummy yummy yummy!

Midwestern Progressive said...

That really *does* look like an amazing dish. Might have to try that one.

Megan said...

Thanks for your comments! I'm glad you think it sounds good! Trust me - it's delicious! =) Thanks for coming by my blog!