Read The Laughing Chef's bio and previous
May 7, 2008
Vinegar in Pasta
Sauce: Like a Leather Jacket for Your Penne
When one leafs through the mental note card holder for
pasta sauce recipes, one does not often venture into the alphabetically
arranged section for ingredients starting with the letter V.
We leave, for the time
being, the question of why this is the case and instead recognize that
But even if the trip is a
rare one, then it is one that must occasionally be taken.
The list of foods that
begin with V is a short one. You can already strike out an obvious one,
vegetables, as hopelessly vague. So may you also strike out Vitamin C
for reasons that are obvious.
The mind perhaps lingers
a second over the word venison. It is true that game meat can be used to
make a pasta sauce, but the simple truth is that venison is not our
answer. And, while the mind might then linger a second over the words
vanilla bean, as though some kind of dessert pasta is coming, it is with
great sadness that this would be something perhaps for another day.
Think instead of the word
vinegar. Although the rules of pronunciation have this as a
three-syllable word, it is really made up of two separate words vine
and gar. The vine, as we know, creeps and stretches. The gar is a savage
game fish. The two, combined and involving pasta, suggest a sauce that
will creep into you slowly, but will strike with efficiency and
ruthlessness. Hold on to your hat, were riding the balsamic bronco!
Begin by heating some
sliced mushrooms, diced chicken and zucchini in heated olive oil. Toss
in some minced garlic, and once heated all the way through, add enough
balsamic vinegar, plus a splash or two of white cooking wine, to
thoroughly coat all ingredients and to form a small pool in the bottom
of the pan. This will be critical to coating the individual pasta
Add salt to taste, but
add a very healthy dose of cracked black pepper. It will bring a zest to
the table that complements nicely the sweetness of the balsamic vinegar.
The question of noodles
here is easily answered. The vinegar will stain anything it touches a
brownish color, which means you should use pasta that is aesthetically
pleasing when stained brown. Sadly, this is not the case when using
regular, workaday spaghetti or linguini. When stained brown, those look
unappealing and somewhat inedible.
Penne, on the other hand,
looks handsome when stained brown by vinegar, almost distinguished. It
is like adding a jacket with leather patches to a man with a
well-groomed moustache and beard. The one appears well kept, the other
looks scholarly and wise. Spaghetti, in these regards, takes a step down
mussing the hair and turning the beard scraggly. The difference
between penne and spaghetti in this case is the difference between a
college professor and a transient yelling at traffic.
Once your noodles have
cooked, it is time to stain them by mixing noodle and sauce.
North Star Writers Group. May not be republished without permission.
Click here to talk to our writers and
editors about this column and others in our discussion forum.
To e-mail feedback
about this column,
click here. If you enjoy this writer's
work, please contact your local newspapers editors and ask them to carry
This is Column
Request permission to publish here.