You guys are food people, right? I assume because you read this blog that you, like myself, might also be the kind of person who watches the Food Network. We don’t actually have cable, but due to a free-Hulu-trial-turned-3-month-subscription (darn you, Master Chef Junior binge), I’ve been watching a lot of culinary TV.
The other day, I was folding laundry and decided to give Throwdown with Bobby Flay a try. I thought…I like Bobby Flay, and mmmmmm let’s watch a half hour of tikka masala.
Why didn’t you guys warn me? Throwdown with Bobby Flay might have the worst premise in all of TV. Here’s a breakdown:
Some little-known, innocent Chef is simply the best at their signature dish.
Bobby Flay practices signature dish, usually with outside, expert help.
Bobby Flay shows up, unnanounced, to Chef’s home turf.
Bobby Flay challenges Chef to a cookoff of their signature dish.
Bobby Flay and Chef each cook their version of the dish.
And. Sometimes. Bobby. Flay. WINS.
What the what? What producer thought this was a good idea? I know…let’s make some small-time chef feel like a loser who can’t even win a cook-off of their own signature dish. That’s tUrrible.
Is there something I’m missing here?…Am I just too Minnesotan, or is this just fundamentally rude? I mean, I guess I get that it’s an honor to have the Food Network, and Bobby Flay himself, come out to your restaurant and feature you and your dish. But then you run the risk of getting beat at your own game. No thanks, Food Network.
Full disclosure: none of this has anything to do with this pasta. I’ve just been on a soapbox the last couple days and decided to expand my audience beyond my husband and children.
Let’s talk pasta. We’ve been making this dish all summer. It is endless in its variation, and full of summery goodness. It’s been the recipient of many of our Uproot Farm CSA veggies, and I think it really makes the most of them. The version featured here is proably one of our favorites to date.
You start by caramelizing some onions. To do this right, it takes about an hour, but most of that is hands-off time. Caramelized onions? Like freaking candy. While those onions are getting browned and sugary, roast some veggies – specifically tomatoes, which are just over-the-top amazing right now. Also – summer squash. You should definitely be roasting summer squash. It’s what the squash wants. Once all the caramelizing and roasting is done, it all gets mixed together with cooked pasta, lightly sauteed kale, a little bit more balsamic vinegar, and parmesan.
And blammo. You’ve got sweet, savory, salty, earthy, cheesy. It’s just so good.
Throw that down, Bobby Flay.
(recipe by Carpé Season) (serves 4)
Caramelizing the onions takes about an hour, but most of that is hands-off time. While they caramelize, you can roast your tomatoes & summer squash, and cook your pasta as well.
1 tablespoon butter
2 1/2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
2 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
1 large red onion, thinly sliced*
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar, divided
1 teaspoon sugar
salt & pepper
6 plum tomatoes or 2 large "slicing" tomatoes
2 small summer squash or zucchini
10 oz. dried pasta
1 1/2 cups kale, finely diced
fresh basil or parsley, chopped
1 cup parmesan, shredded
*You can also use leeks for a bit of a fresher taste; be sure to wash them thoroughly and caramelize them the same way; though they should only take about 30 minutes.
**You can substitute spinach here.
Caramelize the Onions:
Heat butter and one tablespoon olive oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Once melted, add the onions and garlic and stir for one minute. Turn heat to low and cook for about 50 minutes, stirring occasionally, until onions are golden brown. If browning too quickly, lower heat.
Roast Tomatoes & Summer Squash:
Meanwhile, preheat oven to 400*. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
Prepare squash by trimming ends, halving, and cutting into 1-inch chunks. Mix 1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil and 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar in a medium bowl. Add the zucchini pieces first, toss to coat, and place cut-side-down on parchment paper. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Core tomatoes and cut into 1/2-inch wedges. (If using plum tomatoes, just quarter). Next, add the tomatoes to the bowl (do it in this order so your squash doesn't get coated with tomato juice). Toss gently to coat, place in a single layer on parchment paper. Sprinkle with sugar, salt, and pepper.
Set timer for 25 minutes. Remove squash when fork tender (after about 15 minutes), and tomatoes when whithered but still retaining their shape. Once squash and tomatoes are cooled, you can cut them into smaller pieces if desired.
Cook Pasta & Assemble:
Cook your pasta al dente in salted water according to package directions. When draining, reserve 1/4 cup of pasta liquid.When onions are caramelized, add reserved pasta water and kale. Saute for 2 minutes until kale just wilts. Gently stir in the roasted squash and tomatoes, the cooked pasta, plus an additional tablespoon balsamic vinegar. Then stir in the parmesan until it melts. Cook over low heat for one minute until all of that goodness adheres to the pasta; add salt and pepper to taste. Garnish with fresh basil or parsley when serving.