Thursday, January 22, 2009

Playing with my food: Goat Cheese Leek Pasta Sauce

I just returned from the Fancy Food Show in San Francisco where I had chance to play with some very good ingredients and make and eat some really nice food. I will share a few of the finds at the show once I have had the chance to test them at home.

One of the wonderful things about San Francisco is that it is surrounded by small farms and wineries making it possible to be well supplied with fresh produce year round. For locavores it is a dream city. Many of those small farms produce local cheese that rivals anything Wisconsin can put out as well as some pretty great olives. Small producers have really learned about the differing techniques of salting and brining olives in order to produce a lovely variety of flavor and texture. It is a fun city to cook in and no wonder they have so many world class restaurants.

Are you ready for a rich tangy pasta sauce highlighted by oven roasted vegetables. Let's cook!
This serves 4 healthy eaters as a main course or 6 to 8 as an appetizer.

2 sweet red or yellow peppers
2 cups broccoli florets
6 leeks chopped and well washed (the white and soft green portion, save the tops for the stock pot)
Olive oil
2 tablespoons butter

First slice the peppers into thin strips toss in olive oil with a touch of salt and put in a 400 degree oven, 10 minutes later add in the broccoli prepared the same way. The leeks can be simply sauteed in butter on the stove top at a low heat until softened. You can have these going while you make your pasta and sauce.

The sauce
4 oz goat cheese
1 1/4 cup heavy cream (wimps can use milk)
2 cups olives chopped, pitted (reserve 1/4 cup for garnish)

The Sauteed leeks (reserve 1/4 cup for garnish)

In the food processor mix the goat cheese and cream, scrape into a large pan on the stove and stir in the olives and leeks. Turn the heat on low to warm the sauce.

Now cook your pasta, I like a small penne for this dish because it grabs the creamy sauce on both the inside and out, but use what you have on hand. When the pasta is al dente toss in the warm sauce adding the roasted vegetables. Serve in warm bowls and sprinkle on the reserved olives and leeks.

It qualifies as Grandma food, because if I were a grandma I would serve this to my grand kids on a cold evening along with a great salad. I am however an Uncle so Jordan and Linnea remind me to make it for you on my next foray into Minnesota.

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