Friday, September 20, 2013

Inexorable march

I am a farmers' market junkie.

I amble about my local market every Saturday, feasting my eyes on lush tables of sweet-tart grapes, breathing in the intoxicating aroma of the best garlic you'll ever find, listening to the glorious sound of chicken sizzling on an electric griddle. I get a lot of ideas, and I buy a lot of things. With a recipe idea in my head, I breezily and confidently say things like, "I'll take 8 quarts of those blueberries and all the Green Zebra tomatoes you have." My goals are lofty: When I get home later, surely I will make a batch of blueberry butter while I whip up a green tomato panzanella with pickled shallots.
Then, as soon as I set foot outside the idyllic world of the market -- where all culinary things are possible and into which real life shall not pass -- I am jolted back to reality. Where children are crazed and husbands are stressed and the laundry pile is three bibs and a pair of running shorts shy of touching the ceiling.

Several days pass. Produce remains un-fruit-buttered and un-pickled. Panic sets in. I can't let all this gorgeousness go to waste! Commence marathon afternoon/evening of cooking. 

The next Saturday, it all happens again.

This week, I had an embarrassment of Sun Gold tomatoes from Hattie's Gardens. If you are unfamiliar with the majesty that is the Sun Gold tomato, let me tell you about it. It's a tiny little golden yellow-orange gem, a sweet nugget of concentrated sunshine and warm late summer afternoons. Sun Golds are glorious. My original plan, when I bought them, involved laboriously yet lovingly peeling each tiny sphere, packing them into wee quilted Ball jars, and canning them to save for a bleak February day. But the aforementioned bibs and running shorts were taking over my bedroom, mocking me with their unfoldedness. I -- shockingly -- never got around to the canning. And lo, a few nights ago I realized I had a glut of Sun Golds that were this close to being lost forever to the inexorable march of mold.

Enter this pasta dish: a celebration of the Sun Gold, cooked briefly with onion, garlic, and subtle hints of basil, thyme, tarragon, clove, and star anise. Perfection. If there are any Sun Golds left at your market, well, you know what to do.

Now excuse me while I figure out to do with all this rainbow chard.


Adapted from Bon Appetit

1 lb. spaghetti, fettuccine, or any long pasta you like 
1/4 c. extra-virgin olive oil
1 onion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
2 sprigs basil
1 sprig thyme
1 sprig tarragon
1 star anise pod
1 clove
2 t. sherry vinegar
4 c. Sun Gold (or other cherry) tomatoes, halved
Kosher salt, to taste
Freshly-cracked black pepper, to taste

In a large pot of boiling salted water, cook pasta until al dente according to package directions. When the pasta is ready to drain, be sure to reserve some of the starchy cooking liquid.

While the pasta is cooking, heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring often, until soft and slightly browned, 6-8 minutes. Add garlic, basil, thyme, tarragon, star anise, and clove and cook, stirring often, until ingredients are fragrant, about 2 minutes. Add vinegar and tomatoes. Cook, stirring occasionally, until tomatoes release their juices and a sauce forms. Discard basil, thyme, tarragon, star anise, and clove (if you can find it in there). Season sauce with salt and pepper to taste.

Bowl o' discarded flavor agents

Add drained pasta to the sauce, along with 1/2 c. of the pasta cooking liquid. Cook, tossing and adding more pasta cooking liquid as needed to coat the pasta and make a nice sauce, about 2 minutes.

Serves 4.


Previously, on A Stove With A House Around It:

One year ago: tomato-water spaghetti
Two years ago: cinnamon-scented fried chicken
Three years ago: tomato and bread salad with ricotta
Four years ago: pasta della Bosca
Five years ago: roasted tomato marinara