Pasta & Co, Seattle
news from kurt

PACIFIC NORTHWEST CUISINE- Fall 2010

 

WHAT'S COOKING WITH KURT

 

It’s homecoming season. Time to savor Indian Summer and a return to the routines of school, tailgate parties, football and soccer games, hunkering down to the serious stuff, as leaves change color and days grow shorter. Time to gather friends and family to share a meal and catch up again after summer adventures. Halloween fun is on the horizon, too. There’s no better place to be in the fall than the Pacific Northwest. To celebrate the season, we’re showcasing the fabulous flavors and tastes of our region. Come in and taste the dynamite dishes you can serve for easy weeknight or weekend gatherings, build a meal around or add to round out a main course. Wholesome and hearty, boldly flavored and always all-natural, Pasta & Co’s deli dishes are conveniently ready to pick up and take home. We’re all about the Northwest with our fall pantry items, too. Our Culinary Council has tasted and selected the best, from a spiced pumpkin scone mix perfect for Halloween morning to pear fruit butter and cinnamon caramel corn. Stop in and discover everything that’s new and delicious for fall at Pasta & Co.


Yours for good taste,

 

 

WHAT MAKES IT NORTHWEST CUISINE?


From salmon and halibut to oysters, clams, potatoes, asparagus and apples, to berries, cherries, currants, pumpkins, peaches, pears, grains, cheeses, hazelnuts and geoducks -- yes, even geoducks!--we live in an area generous with its amazing variety of fabulous foods. From the first Native Americans who caught and feasted upon wild salmon grilled on alder planks, to Pike Place Market, established in 1907, the oldest continually operating farmers’ market in the United States, along with farmers’ markets in almost every Seattle neighborhood, our culinary legacy in Pacific Northwest is rich, deep and delicious.

 

The best Northwest foods are seasonal and almost demand a celebration when a new crop first appears in markets. Think of the first asparagus spears in spring, June’s ruby red Chandler or Earliglo strawberries, and August’s Red Haven and Elberta peaches. These, and so many other fruits and vegetables, are grown right nearby in fertile farming valleys, such as Skagit and Snohomish. Over on the other side of the Cascades in central Washington’s Yakima Valley, irrigation canals carrying water from the mighty Columbia River have created a vast agricultural oasis producing a cornucopia of produce and grains we also enjoy.

 

The Northwest style of serving these fantastic foods is simple, straightforward and flavorful. In other words, let quality and flavor shine through. Inspired by innovative Seattle chefs such as Tom Douglas, Jerry Traunfeld, Christine Keff, Kevin Davis and Ethan Stowell, to name a few, who showcase the amazing taste and variety of Pacific Northwest ingredients at their restaurants, we’ve learned to appreciate our local food resources even more.



DELI DISHES WITH NORTHWEST FLAIR


With so many terrific ingredients available right here in the Northwest, we really got inspired for our fall deli menu. You’ll find hearty classics guaranteed to warm a chilly autumn night and exciting new dishes starring whole grains, nuts and cheeses. Whether it’s a weeknight supper or entertaining occasion, all make it easy to give the question, “What’s for dinner?,” a delicious answer.

 

Topping the list of main dishes is ¬PORK TENDERLOIN WITH APPLE COMPOTE. Tender, herb-seasoned whole pork tenderloin is slathered with an herb coating of rosemary, thyme, garlic, olive oil, salt and pepper, then roasted and sliced. It’s served on a bed of chunky Granny Smith apples simmered in apple juice with a smidgeon of butter for flavor. For a winning fall menu, pair this dish with our savory baked MUSHROOM STRATA, a combo of thickly-sliced, browned mushrooms, roasted garlic, fresh thyme, Beecher’s Flagship cheese, green onions and lemon zest, baked until the top is golden brown. It’s also a terrific vegetarian main dish.

 

Anyone who loves chicken will want seconds of our RASPBERRY CHICKEN. For this flavorful main, chicken breasts are brined for extra tenderness, then browned with sliced mushrooms and onions, deglazed with raspberry vinegar, and finished with chicken stock, tomato and cream. Add a returning favorite, GRILLED CHICKEN WITH HAZELNUTS AND FIGS, a low-fat dish combining brined, then grilled chicken chunks, chopped dried figs and toasted Oregon hazelnuts, and autumn dinners don’t get much better.

 

What’s old is new again. Farro (pronounced FAHR-oh), an ancient grain grown for centuries in Tuscany, has been rediscovered and praised for its flavor-packed, high protein goodness. No relation to wheat, it looks like light brown rice and has a nutty taste similar to oats and barley. We’ve used this versatile grain in FARRO CAKES, crunchy patties formed from cooked farro seasoned with chicken broth, Flagship cheese and thyme. Coated with breadcrumbs, the cakes are baked at high heat to bring out farro’s nutty flavor. Farro also stars in NORTHWEST FARRO SALAD WITH CRANBERRIES, a crunchy, grain-based salad that tosses farro, dried cranberries, toasted hazelnuts and chopped green onions in a light orange juice-based dressing.

 

This new dish is sure to be a crowd-pleaser: BUTTERNUT SQUASH AND FLAGSHIP BREAD PUDDING, which combines cubes of roasted butternut squash tossed with kale sautéed with red onions, Flagship cheese and cubes of artisan bread. It’s a tasty companion for chicken, turkey, pork or beef.

 

Potato fans will cheer for the return of two favorites. Swedish HASSELBACK POTATOES, thinly sliced, baked Northwest Yukon Gold potatoes seasoned with butter, salt and pepper and a generous sprinkling of Beecher’s Flagship cheese, can be paired with meats or poultry. Serve the always-popular SMASHED YUKONS WITH SMOKEY BLUE, which blend creamy Yukon Gold potatoes with award-winning Rogue Creamery Smokey Blue Cheese, and be prepared to offer seconds. These are proven crowd-pleasers.

 

We’ve showcased Pacific Northwest ingredients in our fall salads, too. CELERY ROOT SALAD WITH PEARS AND HAZLENUTS has lots of Northwest flair by combining crunch with sweetness using brined, sliced celery root with sliced Bosc and Bartlett pears; toasted, chopped Oregon hazelnuts and green onions in a creamy honey mustard dressing seasoned with caraway seeds. HARVEST SALAD is a simple, light salad celebrating apples--sliced Braeburns, Fujis, Golden Delicious and Pink Lady---with fresh zucchini, tossed in a rice wine and basil vinaigrette. With this terrific deli line-up, every fall meal will be a feast.



FALL PANTRY SELECTIONS


We’re all about local, seasonal and whole grains this season, and our Culinary Council did a terrific job sourcing items to complement this theme. POTLACH PILAF from Bluebird Grains is a real find. A blend of wild rice, farro and white rice, it makes a distinctive, hearty side dish or can be stirred into homemade soups to add flavor and texture. Two seasonal scone mixes--APPLE CINNAMON SCONES MIX and PUMPKIN SPICE SCONES MIX from Sticky Fingers--make it easy and convenient to enjoy warm baked treats for breakfast, brunch or afternoon tea. Also from Sticky Fingers, CRANBERRY-APPLE FRUIT BUTTER and PEAR FRUIT BUTTER are a novel topping for scones, buttered toast, English muffins or waffles--you name it. Bursting with real fruit flavor, we bet they’ll inspire other uses too. Knowing how much Seattle-ites love popcorn with their movies or just as a snack, stocking SAVORY TRUFFLE SALT and CINNAMON CARAMEL CORN from Seattle Popcorn Company was a must. Either will take popcorn munching into another dimension.



COOKING THE NORTHWEST WAY


With so many terrific Pacific Northwest ingredients beckoning, how’s a cook to use them all? We’ve got two great recommendations to solve this delicious dilemma. Our very own PURE FLAVOR: 125 FRESH ALL-AMERICAN RECIPES FROM THE PACIFIC NORTHWEST is chock-full of ideas. From breakfast and basics, to soups and sandwiches, fish, shellfish, meat, grains and more, you’ll find inspiration for dozens of dishes for everyday meals and casual entertaining. And if you find inspiration in reading restaurant menus, our second selection is for you. Just updated and re-published, DINING IN SEATTLE: PAST AND PRESENT showcases 200 recipes from legendary Seattle restaurants, some no longer open, as well as current favorites. Authored by Andrea Lott, Andrea Umbach and Elliott Wolf, the book was first printed in 1977 as one in a series of cookbooks aimed at recreating the restaurant experience in 30 major American cities by adapting some of the most popular restaurant recipes for home cooks. The 300-page book is seasoned with nostalgia and offers palate-pleasing memories, along with tips, techniques, tidbits and wine pairings from Seattle’s premier dining establishments, past and present.



KURT'S KITCHEN WISDOM


We’re so intrigued by farro--check out the farro/wild rice blend we’ve stocked as a fall pantry item so you can experiment with using it at home--we adapted a recipe from our PURE FLAVOR COOKBOOK to showcase the grain’s nutty flavor and wholesome goodness. One tip: Toasting the hazelnuts brings out their peak flavor. This hearty dish is an ideal partner with meat and poultry dishes, as well as makes a satisfying vegetarian main dish.

 

Northwest Farro Salad

 

Serves 4 as a main course, 6 as a side dish

 

2 cups farro, soaked overnight for faster cooking
1 quart cold water
2 teaspoons kosher salt

1/2 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice (2 to 3 medium lemons)
1/2 cup freshly squeezed orange juice (1 to 2 medium oranges)
1 teaspoon kosher salt, or to taste
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, or to taste
1/2 cup dried cranberries
2 ounces hazelnuts, toasted and roughly chopped (about 1/2 cup)
1 cup green onions, thinly sliced
1/2 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

 

 

Drain water from the farro. Refill pot with fresh, cold water to cover, and stir in salt. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat and simmer until tender, about 1-1/4 hours. Drain off water, and let farro cool slightly.

 

To make the dressing, in a medium bowl, whisk together the lemon and orange juices, salt and pepper. Pour the dressing over the cooled farro and toss using a fork to evenly coat the grain. Stir in the cranberries, hazelnuts, green onion and parsley until evenly blended. Chill if desired, but let the salad to come to room temperature before serving to enjoy its full flavor.

 


Copyright 2008 Pasta & Co

 

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Pasta & Co is part of the Sugar Mountain family of businesses;
sibling company to Beecher's Handmade Cheese,
Bennett’s Pure Food Bistro, Maximus / Minimus,
and Northwest Earth & Ocean.