Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Peppery bay leaf pasta

Lester and Laura figured out that the branches poking through our back fence from the neighbor's yard belong to a bay tree. I've never used fresh bay leaves before, but solstice is a good day to try new things, right? As is every other day. They smelled amazing at the start, but the flavor wasn't quite strong enough to hold its own in the face of so much starch. Once we get through a bit more of the ice cream backlog in the freezer, there will be bay ice cream, which should be a much better backdrop for the herbal flavors.

5 fresh bay leaves
3/4 t red pepper flakes
olive oil
1/2 large white onion, minced
2 c whole cherry tomatoes
1 can cannellini beans, well rinsed
1/3 pack TJs mini cheese ravioli
watercress, pine nuts

Tear the bay leaves up a bit, and crush them with the red pepper flakes. Heat a generous pour of olive oil in a pot on medium heat. Add the onion and herbs/spices and cook for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the tomatoes and cook, covered, for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Some of the tomatoes will fall apart but others won't; that's fine because it gives the onions more time to caramelize without much liquid around. You can start cooking the pasta in some salted water while you're waiting for the tomatoes to cook. When you're satisfied with the onions and tomatoes, crush them up with a potato masher to make a thick sauce; add a tablespoon or two of the red wine you're drinking if it looks too dry. Stir in the beans and cook until the pasta is done. Drain the pasta and add it to the sauce, and keep everything warm until Lester gets home from soccer. Garnish with watercress and pine nuts.

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