Figuring out what makes a dish “gourmet” does not take much except knowing your flavors and how best to combine them. Back from a recent trip to Paris, I was amazed at the lack of gourmet for the vegetarian. When you think French cuisine, you think exotic – well that isn’t the case for non-meat eaters. It was almost as if they had no time for them. On the other hand, they had Foie Gras (which by the way is the unnaturally fattened and sick liver of a goose) and escargot that may tickle some people’s fancy. The oh- so- blah grilled aubergine and zucchini’s, the entrée pretty much anywhere we went, could’ve well been substituted with a good pasta, and Italian restaurants are not uncommon in Paris. Want some gourmet vegetarian ideas? Here’s a pasta recipe that’s got “Gourmet” writ all over it.
Back home, I reach for a pen and an index card and write out a description of the dinner I plan to make, as if I were seated with a starched white napkin on my lap, sipping on my sauvignon blanc, listening to a French waiter explain to me in his French accent a gourmet dish to me in an Italian restaurant in the heart of Paris.
Farfalle Salad. Farfalle eez ze pasta bow-tie cooked al-dente een saffron de Espagne. The sos eez made weeth ze mangoes ripened, seasoned weeth rosemary and black peppers. Served weeth fresh seasonale vegetables sautéed een olive oil tossed een to ze salade, topped weeth pignots and ze parmesan cheese.
I don my apron and get cooking.
Serves 4 – 6
Prep time: 15 minutes
Cooking time: 20 minutes
3 cups of Farfalle Pasta
1 tsp of crushed saffron
1tsp of olive oil
5 cups of water to boil the pasta in
1tsp of salt
Ingredients for the Mango Sauce
(This was a totally off the cuff try, based on intuition and a sense of what might work with what…So subbing one fruit (tomato) for another tangy was an interesting, yet plausible choice for me)
Pulp of 2 big mangoes – peeled and cut
1 tbsp whole black peppers
2 green chilies (not required/optional)
1 tbsp crushed rosemary
1 tsp of lemon juice
1 tsp of honey
4 tsp of olive oil
½ long red pepper (red long capsicum)
1 bell pepper (capsicum)
4-5 mushrooms, minced
2 cloves of garlic
¼ of a red onion
1tsp of olive oil
First boil 5 cups of water in a pot. Add 1 tsp of salt and i tsp of olive oil. Crush 1 tsp of saffron and add to the water.
Add the pasta and slow cook for about 7-9 minutes – You should have lovely golden yellow bowtie pasta! Set aside
While the pasta is boiling, in a blender, add the mangoes, 1 tbsp of peppers, honey, green chilies in about a cup of water.
Add a tsp of olive oil in a pot. Pour the blended mango puree and allow it to boil for about 5-10 minutes- Keep the flame in medium heat. (keep covered)
Take the cut veggies and toss in a pan with 1 tsp of olive oil. Add some salt and allow it to tenderize but not overcook!
Now you have your three components. Get yourself a pasta bowl. Pour the farfalle in. Drizzle 1 last tsp of olive oil and toss. Add the veggies and toss again. Drizzle about 2-3 ladles of mango sauce and mix in well. Sprinkle pine nuts and some parmesan cheese.
I allowed it to cool on the kitchen table – this can be served hot, warm or cold.
[box]End Notes: You can bottle the rest of the mango sauce for another occasion or use as salad dressing or as a dip with some yummy baguette![/box]