Pasta & Co, Seattle
news from kurt

A TASTE OF THE MEDITERRANEAN - SUMMER 2010

 

WHAT'S COOKING WITH KURT

 

Summertime and the livin’ is easy. We’re getting into a relaxed groove with sunny skies and warmer temps, going to baseball games (Win a few, guys!), taking the cover off the ski boat and pulling out golf clubs. Our Northwest summers are THE best! The sunshine season has put us into a Mediterranean mood, too. Who doesn’t love the foods and flavors from this part of the world? Feasts and family are integral to this region’s culture, along with quality and fresh ingredients. We identify with this, and enjoy gathering everyone together around an outdoor table to share a meal. Pasta & Co’s dishes inspired by favorites from Mediterranean countries will make mealtimes easy and delicious all summer long. All our dishes are natural, additive- and preservative-free, bursting with bold flavor and fresh tastes. This is our commitment to you. Check out our Pantry selections, too. Our Culinary Council tasted and debated and selected some dynamite items. From colorful painted ceramic serving dishes to balsamic vinegar infused-figs and fast-to-prepare risotto from Italy’s family-owned rice company, along with all our deli dishes, we’re predicting a delicious summer. Come share the feast!


Yours for good taste,

 

 

MEDITERRANEAN FOODS & FLAVORS


Mediterranean foods offer a rich mingling of fabulous flavors, textures and tastes. Think of Spain’s enticing tapas and paellas, Italy’s pastas and cheeses; wines, bread and pastries from Provençal France; couscous, bulgur and grain dishes from Lebanon, Israel and Turkey; lamb stews, wine, olives and olive oil from Greece, Morocco’s tangines and spices, plus Tunisia’s seafood.

 

Simple peasant lifestyles linked to the seasons and the sea are the foundation of all traditional Mediterranean cuisines. A hot, dry climate and rugged terrain tumbling down to turquoise waters gave rise to farming communities and fishing fleets embarking from coastal villages. Small family farms grew rice, olives for olive oil, garlic, citrus fruits, nuts, spices, herbs, and grapes for winemaking, plus sheep and pigs. Meat and bean stews were, and are, a staple, as are rice dishes such as risotto and paella, grain-based dishes such as couscous, bread, lamb, soups and vegetable dishes.

 

Cultural factors have also shaped Mediterranean kitchens. Over the centuries, many cultures--Greek, Roman, Arabic, Moors and Turks from the Ottoman Empire--crossed the seas to invade and conquer neighboring lands, influencing local cooking as their armies settled into new surroundings. Add the surprising foods and ingredients from the New World--tomatoes and corn particularly--as another factor affecting cooking styles. Of course, church feasts and holy days celebrated by the Catholic and Greek Orthodox Churches also played a strong role in determining what was cooked and eaten. 

But regardless of their homeland or indigenous culture, every Mediterranean cook respects quality food and fresh ingredients, and has a zest for sharing authentic dishes with family and friends. We think this philosophy towards food is a perfect match for Pasta & Co.



SUMMER DELI DISHES INSPIRED BY MEDITERRANEAN FAVORITES


Planning an outdoor supper, a beach picnic or a special Dad’s Day menu? Check out Pasta & Co’s terrific summer dishes. Inspired by Mediterranean flavors, we’re serving some fabulous food. Whatever your entertaining style or the occasion (Father’s Day 6/20, Summer Solstice 6/21, Fourth of July, Labor Day 9/6), or even if it’s a fast and easy weeknight supper you’re after, we’ve got the dishes to make or plan a meal around. 

 

For main dishes, LAMB STEW WITH ROSEMARY is a classic, fragrant with fresh rosemary and a rich wine sauce based on a traditional Greek dish. It combines lamb chunks that are first browned and seasoned with salt and pepper, then simmered till tender with tomatoes, cannellini beans, white wine, rosemary and lots of garlic. PICNIC CHICKEN had to make a return appearance. It’s our version of traditional fried chicken, but with skinless, boneless chicken strips marinated in buttermilk, then double-dipped in seasoned flour and deep-fried to crispy perfection. Unbeatable!

 

As an alternative to burgers, try our TUNISIAN FISH PATTIES. A tasty mixture of cod blended with chopped yellow onion, parsley, cilantro, garlic, harissa, cumin and egg is formed into patties, then coated with olive oil-rubbed bread crumbs and baked in the oven at a high temperature. No leftovers here!

 

Summer is prime-time for salads and we’re dishing up a bonanza! Match one with ribs, chicken or wild salmon--you name it. Mix and match, and choose others as a light, refreshing main dish on a busy weeknight.

 

Savory FRENCH LENTILS & COUSCOUS SALAD combines French lentils (the little ones) with a staple of Lebanese cooking: couscous. Mixed with Feta cheese, arugula, mint and grape tomatoes in a light vinaigrette dressing, it’s versatile for lunch or dinner menus. A flavorful EGGPLANT-BARLEY SALAD tosses cubed, roasted eggplant with olive oil and cumin, and adds barley, parsley, mint, chopped kalamata olives and cherry tomatoes. CHICKPEA SALAD is another winner. Made from dried chick peas for extra flavor, the ‘peas’ are simmered until tender, then tossed with fresh lemon juice, parsley, sweet onion, olive oil, fresh oregano, garlic, salt and pepper. Chickpeas star in our GREENS SALAD, too. The summer version pairs chickpeas with red onion, fennel, arugula, grape tomatoes, crushed red pepper and orange zest in a red wine vinegar dressing.

 

There’s also a quartet of returning salad favorites. The tasty group includes NORTHERN ITALIAN RICE AND SHRIMP SALAD, a hearty rice and shrimp mixture sparked with red onion and parsley, and the unbeatable FRENCH POTATO SALAD. This classic pairs white rose and red potatoes with green onions, dill, parsley and basil in a simple Dijon dressing. Third is SWEET POTATO AND BLACK BEAN SALAD, which combines sweet potatoes, black beans, fresh corn, green onions and cilantro in a zesty garlic and lime dressing. Rounding out the lineup is TRIPOLI TABBOULEH, a Middle Eastern salad made with bulgur wheat, chopped tomatoes, onions, parsley and fresh mint leaves dressed with olive oil and lemon juice.

 

We’ve got summer soups on the menu, too, ready to add a refreshing note to any meal, or even serve as a complete meal. On sultry days, there’s nothing better than COLD CUCUMBER SOUP, a silky purée of cucumber and light cream, or GAZPACHO, a summer classic. With summer’s bounty of tomatoes, we’re also serving TOMATO BASIL SOUP, a zesty blend of pure tomato flavor accented by fresh basil. Come in and try everything!



SUMMER PANTRY PICKS


Throughout the Mediterranean region, the art of cooking reaches beyond the stovetop. Thrifty, innovative cooks use fruits, berries, wines and vinegars to concoct flavorful preserves and condiments. Our Culinary Council tasted and chose some outstanding selections you’ll want in your pantry for summer meals. First, for serving summer meals, we’ve got a beautiful option. Check out the handsome LE SOUK CERAMIQUE bowls, platters and pitchers we’ve stocked in various sizes. All are decorated in vivid colors using free-hand patterns typical of Italian pottery, meaning no decals, stencils or tracing, and no machine painting are used. 

 

On the extra unusual ingredient side, we’re stocking Boquerones, the delicately flavored, marinated white anchovies harvested only in the Bay of Biscay between France and Spain. Use them in salads or atop a homemade pizza. Another favorite, an irresistible FIG COMPOTE from Mussini, pairs plump figs with rich balsamic vinegar to serve with matured or spicy cheese, meats, fish, sliced meats, desserts or ice cream. Instead of red or rice wine vinegar or lemon juice in salad dressings, and water for steaming vegetables, try VERJUS from Terra Sonoma. Used for centuries in Italian kitchens, it’s made from semi-ripe first harvest or “green” wine grapes gathered when vineyards are thinned, and it’s something any adventurous cook (Dad?) would enjoy trying. We’re also stocking SABA, also from Terra Sonoma. Thick and sweet, it’s a versatile cooking syrup made from estate-grown wine grapes. Dilute it with sparkling water for drinks, serve it over shaved ice as a granita, add it to ricotta or yogurt, or drizzle over fresh fruits. And if you like risotto as much as we do, you’re going to love the RISO BELLO RISOTTO from Italy’s first family of rice products. These innovative rice dishes deliver the perfect risotto in just 12 minutes. Both BELLO RISOTTO ZAFFERANO (Saffron) and BELLO RISOTTO QUATTRO FORMAGGIO (Four cheeses), imported by M5 Corporation International Fine Foods, are guaranteed winners with grilled or roasted fish, poultry or meats. Stop by for tastes, and to check out all our terrific pantry items.



KURT'S KITCHEN WISDOM


One of my favorite summer meals is cedar plank-roasted salmon and halibut. There’s no better time to enjoy these two magnificent fish, native to the Pacific Northwest and Alaska. Cooking fish on a cedar or alder plank over a fire is a traditional cooking method adopted from the Northwest’s native people. The wood imparts a delicate smoky flavor to the fish, and natural oils in the wood also keep the fish from drying out. Along with the great flavor, it’s totally easy! It’s a favorite recipe in our cookbook, PURE FLAVOR: 125 Fresh All-American Recipes From the Pacific Northwest. Be sure to use only untreated cedar boards for cooking, a product you can find in cookware stores, large grocery stores and in the barbecue section of big box stores. Serve the fish with FIG COMPOTE or either of the BELLO RISOTTOS for a terrific flavor combination.

 

Surf and Surf: Cedar Plank-Grilled Salmon and Halibut

 

Serves 4 to 6

 

1-1/4 pounds skin-on salmon fillets, fresh or thawed
1-1/4 pounds skin-on halibut fillets, fresh or thawed
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

 

 

Soak untreated cedar (or alder) plank in water for at least 1 hour. Prepare your grill by scraping it, and heating it to medium.

 

Carefully rinse and dry each fillet. If you feel any bones when you run your fingers along the fillet, you may wish to remove them using needlenose pliers or strong tweezers. Pull out the bones in the same direction they grew to avoid damaging the fish.

 

Place the fillets on the plank or planks, brush them with olive oil, and season with salt and pepper. Place the plank over the flame or hot coals. It will burn, but this is normal. If you see open flames, turn the heat to low and spray the plank with a little water from a spray bottle. You can also move the plank to a cooler part of the grill.

 

Cook fish until the juices turn opaque and solid on top of the fish, approximately 10 minutes for each inch of thickness. Do not overcook. A meat thermometer should read 145 F when inserted into the thickest part of the fish.

 

At this point, most of the plank around the fish will be charred. Remove the fish to a platter, leaving the skin on the plank, and discard the plank.


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.