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Potatoes in the Pasta

June 18, 1997|CHARITY FERREIRA | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

Pasta and potatoes together may seem like too many starches, but the combination is uniquely satisfying and nutritious.

This pairing works particularly well with tiny red new potatoes, which have paper-thin skins and meltingly tender insides. A trip to a supermarket will unearth these spring potatoes as well as a host of other varieties. At farmers markets and some grocery stores, look for buttery-fleshed Yellow Finn and Yukon Gold potatoes or small Peruvian potatoes with purple skins.

Gremolata is a wonderfully sharp, fragrant mixture of garlic, parsley and lemon peel chopped together to make a rough paste. A spoonful on top of pasta tossed with potatoes and some mildly brined black olives makes an unusual, earthy dish.

For dessert, poach some strawberries in red wine with a few drops of balsamic vinegar and serve them in wine or parfait glasses with a spoon for the extra syrup.

MENU (30 Minutes or Less)

Rigatoni With Olives, New Potatoes and Gremolata

Strawberries in Red Wine Syrup

SHORT CUTS

* Chop the gremolata by hand. Using a food processor will make the mixture too smooth.

* Tube-shaped pastas tend to trap water when they are drained; be sure to shake vigorously in colander to remove excess liquid that could dilute the flavor of

RIGATONI WITH OLIVES, NEW POTATOES AND GREMOLATA

1 pound small new boiling potatoes

1/4 cup olive oil

Salt, pepper

1 bunch flat-leaf parsley

Peel of 3 lemons, yellow part only

5 cloves garlic, smashed

1 pound rigatoni or penne

1 cup olives, such as Gaeta or Nicoise, halved, pitted and roughly chopped

* Slice potatoes into rounds 1/4 inch thick. Heat 2 tablespoons oil in skillet and saute potatoes over medium-high heat until slightly browned and tender, about 5 minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste.

* Combine parsley, lemon peel and garlic on cutting board and chop to coarse paste or gremolata. Set aside.

* Cook pasta in plenty of rapidly boiling, lightly salted water until tender, about 10 minutes, and drain well. Toss with potato slices, remaining olive oil and olives. Divide among serving bowls and top each serving with spoonful of gremolata mixture.

4 to 6 servings. Each of 6 servings:

494 calories; 563 mg sodium; 0 cholesterol; 16 grams fat; 75 grams carbohydrates; 13 grams protein; 1.06 grams fiber.

STRAWBERRIES IN RED WINE SYRUP

1/2 cup water

1 1/2 cups red wine

1/4 cup balsamic vinegar

1 cup sugar

2 pints strawberries

* Combine water, wine, vinegar and sugar in saucepan. Bring to boil and simmer 10 minutes. Halve or quarter strawberries. Pour syrup over berries and let stand at room temperature until ready to serve.

4 to 6 servings. Each of 6 servings:

207 calories; 6 mg sodium; 0 cholesterol; 0 fat; 43 grams carbohydrates; 1 gram protein; 0.57 gram fiber.

COUNTDOWN

30 minutes before: Make syrup for strawberries. Slice potatoes.

25 minutes before: Pit olives, peel garlic, peel lemons and cut strawberries.

20 minutes before: Begin boiling water for pasta.

15 minutes before: Begin sauteing potatoes.

12 minutes before: Begin cooking pasta, chop gremolata and pour syrup over berries.

2 minutes before: Drain pasta. Toss with potatoes, oil and olives. Serve with gremolata.

INGREDIENTS

SHOPPING LIST

1/2 pint black olives, such as Nicoise or Gaeta

1 pound dried tube-shaped pasta

1 pound small new boiling potatoes

3 lemons

1 bunch flat-leaf parsley

2 pints strawberries

STAPLES

Garlic

Olive Oil

Salt

Pepper

Sugar

Balsamic vinegar

Red wine

*

Masa International Peruvian platter from Bristol Kitchens, South Pasadena

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